O’Brien worked to secure the release of rapper A$AP Rocky from a Swedish prison.
President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that he picked Robert C. O’Brien as his new national security adviser. He currently serves as the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.
The move comes a few days after Trump dismissed John Bolton as his national security adviser. Trump said the two of them had too many disagreements on foreign policy.
I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O’Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor. I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2019
The Senate does not have to confirm O’Brien for this position. He jumped into the Trump administration in May 2018.
As Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, O’Brien “leads diplomatic efforts on overseas hostage-related matters.”
From O’Brien’s State Department biography:
O’Brien previously served as Co-Chairman of the U.S. Department of State Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan under both Secretaries Rice and Clinton. The PPJRA promoted the rule of law by training Afghan judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers and provided scholarships for young Afghan lawyers to study in the U.S. From 2008 through 2011, O’Brien was a presidentially-appointed member of the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which advises the federal government on issues relating to the trafficking of antiquities and other cultural items. In 2005, Mr. O’Brien was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a U.S. Representative to the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly where he worked with Ambassador John Bolton. Earlier in his career, O’Brien served as a Senior Legal Officer for the UN Security Council commission that decided claims against Iraq arising out of the first Gulf War. O’Brien was a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve.
O’Brien is the co-founding partner of Larson O’Brien LLP in Los Angeles, a nationally recognized litigation firm. His law practice focuses on complex litigation and international arbitration. In addition to his client work, O’Brien has served as an arbitrator in over 20 international proceedings and he has been appointed by the federal courts to serve as a special master in numerous complex cases.
He also worked as Mitt Romney’s foreign policy and national security advisory team during his 2012 presidential campaign.
In 2016, O’Brien authored the book While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis. Daniel Runde at Foreign Policy described the book as an “equivalent to President Richard Nixon’s book The Real War.” Runde enjoyed the book because it reminded him why he thinks O’Brien “is someone who should be entrusted with great responsibilities.” He encouraged people interested in foreign policy to read the book.
Retired career foreign service officer Bart Marcois shared the same sentiments. He believes the book “leaves the reader well versed in foreign affairs themes that will dominate the discussion for all of the Trump administration.”
O’Brien recently traveled to Sweden to negotiate the release of A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, along with his two bodyguards. He stayed in a prison in Stockholm, Sweden, for a weeks after a street fight.
O’Brien explained that Trump asked him to fly to Sweden to “support these American citizens.” He vowed not to leave until the Swedes released Rocky and the bodyguards.
Four judges found Rocky guilty of assault. They did not sentence him to any jail time. They awarded the victim “$1,300 for pain and injuries.”
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