Oct 10, 2019

O'Brien names new deputy national security adviser

O'Brien. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien is elevating Victoria Coates, his senior director for the Middle East and North Africa, to serve as deputy national security adviser, officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The move — on the same day O'Brien is holding an all-hands meeting with his staff to lay out his approach — formalizes his prioritization of the region just weeks into his tenure as John Bolton's replacement.

  • It also follows Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria and takes place amid a reduction, or "right-sizing," of the National Security Council staff overall.

Details: Coates' responsibilities will focus on the Middle East and North Africa, a region that includes Syria, Iran, Gulf states, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

  • She will divide responsibilities with Matt Pottinger, the NSC's Asia expert, whom O'Brien elevated last month as deputy national security adviser.
  • Both have served since the start of the Trump administration.
  • The combined moves reflect Trump's focus on China and the Middle East.
  • Coates' elevation makes her one of a few high-ranking women in the administration outside the Cabinet, along with CIA Director Gina Haspel and Energy Undersecretary Lisa Gordon-Hagerty.
  • Coates has previously worked for Donald Rumsfeld, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz. She is also an art historian.

What they're saying: Jared Kushner calls Coates "a great partner" and says they will "continue working closely together."

Go deeper

Trump's G7 and trade adviser Kelly Ann Shaw departing the White House

Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

Kelly Ann Shaw, the adviser to President Trump on the Group of 7 and trade policy who served as the U.S. "sherpa" for the G7 and G20 summits, told Reuters Tuesday that she's leaving his administration because she's ready for a "new adventure."

Why it matters: Shaw is one of the most senior women on Trump's economic team and was among those advising Trump during trade talks with China, Reuters notes. White House officials told the news agency she plans to exit her post on Friday to work in the private sector.

Go deeperArrowOct 23, 2019

The coming appearances in House Democrats' impeachment probe

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The three House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine have sent multiple letters to key Trump administration officials demanding they appear as part of Democrats' rapidly expanding impeachment inquiry.

The latest: Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton was asked on Wednesday to testify before House impeachment committees on Nov. 7. The top lawyer on the national security council John Eisenberg and his deputy Michael Ellis were also asked on to testify on Nov. 4. It is unclear whether any will show up.

The coming schedule ArrowUpdated Oct 30, 2019

Trump attacks Lindsey Graham for criticism of Syria policy

President Trump responded to harsh criticism from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) over the events unfolding in northern Syria, saying that Graham should focus on his work chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee, and accusing Graham of obsessing over war in the Middle East.

Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019