Given the upheavals that have characterized the office of the National Security Advisor during President Trump’s term, it is fair to say that Robert O’Brien may have just been handed a poisoned chalice. Lt. General Michael Flynn, Lt. General Henry McMaster, and John Bolton, have all been ushered out of the White House amidst less than ideal circumstances. Though that might not be a surprise, given the president’s eccentricity and unpredictability, it is still a lot by his standards.
O’Brien comes into office with a decent record and more importantly, a cordial relationship with Trump which might prove to be handy. Seen as a team player and someone with a balanced personality, everyone within the administration would hope he at least survives till the end of this term.
Born in Los Angeles, Robert O’Brien is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied Political Science. He holds a J.D. from the UC Berkeley School of Law. O’Brien was awarded a Rotary Foundation scholarship to study in any country of his choice and he opted to go to South Africa where he studied Political Science and Government with a focus on apartheid at the University of Free State in 1987.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Robert O’Brien
1. He Worked on Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz & Scott Walker’s Presidential Campaigns
O’Brien has been working in the Republican party electioneering campaign backstage for a while, having been named co-chair of Mitt Romney’s advisory team in 2011.
When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker decided to run for President, he was snapped up to serve on his foreign policy and national security team. During the 2016 presidential elections, O’Brien was on Ted Cruz’s foreign policy team.
2. O’Brien Is a successful Hostage Negotiator
Robert O’Brien’s job before resuming as Trump’s National Security Adviser was as Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department. In simple terms, his job description was to serve as the country’s top hostage negotiator.
It was his performance on this job that perhaps forged his closeness to the president. He even went on record to say the president was the “Greatest Hostage Negotiator in History” referring to Trump’s success in getting American citizens out of various tough situations abroad.
O’Brien’s work as America’s chief hostage negotiator was instrumental in securing the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson after he was arrested for allegedly aiding a coup to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
O’Brien was also sent by Trump to Sweden to “intervene” when rapper A$AP Rocky was arrested and charged after he and some members of his team assaulted a 19-year-old man. O’Brien has been involved in freeing American hostages in Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen.
3. He served in President George W. Bush’s Administration
During the tenure of President George W. Bush, in 2005, Robert O’Brien was appointed U.S. Representative to the 60th session of the UN General assembly. He was also appointed Co-chairman of the U.S. Department of State’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan, a role he held into Barack Obama‘s first term in office.
4. He has authored a book on foreign policy
O’Brien is the author of While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis. The book was launched at the Army Navy Club on Farragut Square in Washington D.C. Forwarded by Hugh Hewitt, the book is a collection of his memoirs and thoughts on Americas place among the committee of nations. He argues that under President Obama’s “behind the scenes” approach to foreign policy, America’s position has been undermined and weakened. He argues this has led to the emboldening of America’s foes and recommends America reasserting itself on the world stage and promoting “peace through strength”
5. He has had a successful private law practice
Asides his stints in public office, Robert O’Brien has had a shot at private legal practice. He is the co-founder of Larson O’Brien LLP, a law firm operating out of his native Los Angeles. His partner is former federal Judge Stephen Larson. Prior to setting up Larson O’Brien LLP, he worked as the Managing Partner of Arent Fox’s California office. During his time, the firm recorded significant expansion of its activities and footprints in California, most of which is traceable to the work O’Brien put in.