Robert O'Brien at A$AP Rocky's trial in Stockholm. Photo: Michael Campanella/Getty Images

President Trump announced Wednesday that he selected Robert O’Brien to be his new national security adviser.

The big picture: O’Brien serves as the Trump administration’s hostage envoy and was sent to Sweden this summer to negotiate the release of rapper A$AP Rocky.

  • His appointment as Trump's fourth national security adviser comes a week after John Bolton's abrupt departure from the White House.
  • The U.S., either on a diplomatic or military level, is currently engaged in conflicts with Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and Afghanistan.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Margaret Talev and Alayna Treene: Trump thinks of O’Brien as a winner, because he has been successful at getting hostages released. He also looks the part — which has consistently been an important qualifier for the president.

  • Trump leaned heavily on Mike Pompeo throughout the process of selecting a new national security adviser, and O'Brien is someone Pompeo has worked well with in the past.

Worth noting: O'Brien has previously worked for both Sen. Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, which could be a sticking point for Trump, who views both as symbolic of the GOP establishment.

  • He's also viewed as far less hawkish than his predecessor — he is a hostage negotiator, after all — but that is a low bar given Bolton's aggressive tendencies.

Go deeper: Trump's anti-Iran strategy is facing its greatest test


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Updated 47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court clears way for first federal execution since 2003

Lethal injection facility in San Quentin, California. Photo: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled early Tuesday that federal executions can resume, reversing a lower court decision and paving the way for the first lethal injection since 2003 to take place at a federal prison in Indiana, AP reports.

The big picture: A lower court had delayed the execution, saying inmates had provided evidence the government's plan to carry out executions using lethal injections "poses an unconstitutionally significant risk of serious pain."

2 hours ago - Health

More Republicans say they're wearing masks

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Nearly two-thirds of Americans — and a noticeably increasing number of Republicans — say they’re wearing a face mask whenever they leave the house, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: A weakening partisan divide over masks, and a broad-based increase in the number of people wearing them, would be a welcome development as most of the country tries to beat back a rapidly growing outbreak.

Buildings are getting tested for coronavirus, too

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Testing buildings — not just people — could be an important way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: People won't feel safe returning to schools, offices, bars and restaurants unless they can be assured they won't be infected by coronavirus particles lingering in the air — or being pumped through the buildings' air ducts. One day, even office furniture lined with plants could be used to clean air in cubicles.