Washington • On Wednesday, President Donald Trump appointed Robert O & # 39; Brien, his chief hostage negotiator and a Republican political figure, his new national security adviser.
O'Brien, the fourth person in Washington two years to retain the job, becomes the government's chief executive officer for national security in the face of growing tensions with Iran following the weekend's crackdown on Saudi oil facilities and the recent insecurity Afghanistan after the end of the peace talks with the Taliban.
The announcement of O. & # 39; Brien's selection comes one week after Trump has driven John Bolton out of office, citing political disagreements. O & # 39; Brien, who made headlines in July when he was sent to Sweden to oversee the assassination of American rapper A $ AP Rocky, was among the five candidates Trump contemplated on Tuesday.
"He's been working with me for quite a while Now we're hostages and have a tremendous track record of hostages," Trump said on Wednesday's tarmac in Los Angeles, hours after he announced the election on Twitter. "Robert was fantastic, we know each other well."
O'Brien, who stood next to Trump, said it was a "privilege" to be selected.
"We have a number of challenges," said He added that the government's focus will continue to be on protecting the US and rebuilding the military, and that he will privately advise Trump on the situation in Saudi Arabia.
O & R; Brien is a member of the Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will be the highest-ranking member of the faith in the administration.
Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican and also a Latter-day Saint, praised O. Brien.
During his time at the State Department, he had the opportunity to work with Mr O'Brien on issues of religious freedom and Utahns abroad in Russia, China and around the world.He is an incredible advocate of Religious Beliefs Fre around the world and I am confident that he will perform outstandingly well in his role as national security. Your adviser to the President.
O'Brien also served as Mitt Romney's leading foreign policy advisor during his 201
Romney, who is also a Latter-day Saint and now a Utah senator, offered his congratulations on Twitter.
"As the special envoy of the president for hostage taking, [O’Brien] has stubbornly pursued the release of the American hostages abroad," Romney tweeted. "He is a man of the highest integrity."
Trump abruptly forced Bolton out of office on September 10, after he and his Hawkian national security adviser faced disagreement over the government's attitude toward Iran, Afghanistan, and a host of other global organizations. The sudden departure was the recent departure of a prominent voice that retreated from Trump's inner circle as the president became increasingly comfortable thanks to the diligent guidance of his advisors.
As Special Envoy of the President for hostage-taking in the US State Department O Brien worked closely with the families of American hostages and advised government officials on hostage issues. He assisted in releasing American citizen Danny Burch, who was released after 18 months of imprisonment in Yemen.
He also worked on the case of missing US journalist Austin Tice, who was captured in Syria in 2012 & Brien said he was confident that Tice was still alive.
The White House sent O & G Brien to Sweden to oversee the case of A $ AP Rocky, who was charged with assault. The rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayer, was allowed to return to Los Angeles to await the verdict of a Swedish court that found him guilty in a street brawl.
Last month, Hua Qu, the wife of Princeton University The student detained in Iran told reporters that she wanted to receive the same personal attention from the government as A $ AP Rocky.
On Wednesday, a Twitter account was set up pleading for the release of student Xiyue Wang, congratulating O & # 39; Brien on his appointment, but also saying, "We watched with disappointment as this government poured all of its energy into it the release of the famed A $ AP Rocky from Sweden, meanwhile, (asterisks) several Americans suffer from terrible conditions in # Iran Let's put all Americans first, not just the famous #AmericansFirst. " O'Brien was previously involved in leading the public-private partnership of the Ministry of Justice Reform in Afghanistan during the reigns of Bush and Obama.
] He took the lead last week to replace Bolton when it became clear that an early favorite, Iranian envoy Brian Hook, would get opposition from hawks, according to Republicans who were not tough enough with Iran Matter.
Another shortlisted candidate, North Korean envoy Stephen Biegun, was knocked out of the mix when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested he could better replace John Sullivan as Deputy Secretary of State From 2008 to 2011 was O & # 39; Brien is a member of a government committee appointed by the President, who advises on matters relating to the trade in antiques and other cultural items. In 2005, President George W. Bush appointed O'Brien US Representative to the United States General Assembly, where he worked with Bolton. O & Brien was confirmed by the Senate.
He was also a consultant on Republican Presidential Campaigns of former Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
At the beginning of his career, O & # 39; Brien was a high-level legal secretary to the UN Security Council Commission, which made claims against Iraq resulting from the Gulf War. He was a major in the US Army Reserve.
O'Brien holds a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley and co-founded a law firm in Los Angeles dealing with litigation and international arbitration. O'Brien is the author of "While America Slept," a collection of US national security and foreign policy essays called the "Wake-up call to the American people."
The book warned that the world had grown larger dangerously "under President Obama's leadership from behind foreign policy."
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee and the Salt Lake Tribune Thomas Burr contributed to this report.
Jon Huntsman is a brother of Paul Huntsman, owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune.