After Bolton fireworks, Trump picks low-key Robert O'Brien for top job

U.S. Special Envoy Ambassador centre arrives at the district court where US rapper A$AP Rocky is to appear on charges of assault in Stockholm Sweden Tuesday

Erik Simander TT via AP FILE

President Trump has installed a new national security adviser, Robert C. O'Brien, who apparently called him the greatest hostage negotiator in USA history and has the same history of often-hyperbolic pro-Trump punditry that has become a feature of top administration officials.

O'Brien is Trump's fourth national security adviser.

O'Brien, who now serves as the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department, has a long history in Republican foreign policy circles.

Mr O'Brien has given all the credit for hostage releases he worked on to Mr Trump. "He will do a great job!"

Trump would be the first president to have four national security advisers in his first term. He previously helped lead the department's public-private partnership for justice reform in Afghanistan during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. In the most unusual episode, Mr O'Brien was dispatched to United States ally Sweden to attend the trial of USA rapper ASAP Rocky, who was accused of assault. As the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, he has doggedly pursued the release of American hostages overseas.

John Bolton listens to U.S. President Donald Trump speak in the Oval Office of the White House
Alex Wong Getty Images FILE

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, has been on the job for 20 months, having succeeded Rex Tillerson, who also clashed with Trump.

"He's a very sharp guy", said Kent Lucken, who was a colleague of O'Brien's on two Romney campaigns.

One senior White House official argued the pick shows that Trump "wants a consensus builder, not a showboater" in the role, suggesting O'Brien will cut a lower profile and work better with others in the administration than John Bolton did. O' Brien was confirmed by the Senate. O'Brien also expressed reservations about Trump, saying he "talks about his love for the military and our veterans, but he has also made troubling statements about cutting the defense budget".

He called the president "the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States". His instincts for an aggressive, interventionist foreign policy were at odds with Mr Trump's more isolationist stance. He was a major in the US Army Reserve.

O'Brien replaces John Bolton, the hawkish interventionist sacked last week. It's a role that has been kept on by the Trump administration to continue to focus on efforts to bring Americans home.

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