Robert C. O'Brien

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Robert C. O'Brien Jr. is an American trial lawyer. He has served in various governmental positions, most recently as U. S. National Security Advisor. He took office on September 18, 2019, and concluded January 20, 2021. He was President Donald Trump’s principal staffer in the White House to advise him on foreign policy and national security affairs. At the time of his appointment, O’Brien was the administration’s chief hostage negotiator. 

He was nominated by President George W. Bush as the U.S. Alternate Representative to the 60th session (2005–2006) of the United Nations General Assembly. He served as co-chairman of the U.S. Department of State’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan launched in December 2007. He continued this service during the first term of the Obama administration. On July 31, 2008, President Bush announced his intention to appoint O'Brien to serve in his administration as a member of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, an advisory committee on issues involving antiquities and cultural matters, for the remainder of a three-year term which ended on April 25, 2011.

In October 2011, O’Brien was named to Mitt Romney’s advisory team as co-chair of the International Organizations Work Group.

During the 2016 presidential election, O’Brien was adviser on foreign policy and national security affairs for Scott Walker’s presidential campaign. When he left the race, O’Brien advised Ted Cruz’s campaign.

During the Donald Trump administration, he was considered to serve as Secretary of the Navy. From May 25, 2018, to October 3, 2019, O’Brien served as the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. He was given the rank of ambassador one year after his appointment.

He was named to the White House Coronavirus Task Force on January 29, 2020. He contracted a mild case of COVID-19.

O’Brien was raised Catholic and converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while in college. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

He and his wife, Lo-Mari, have three children. Their son, Robert, died in an accidental drowning.