Sep 17, 2019

Trump names top 5 national security adviser candidates

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump told reporters Tuesday his top 5 candidates to replace former national security adviser John Bolton, after saying last week that he was considering 15 candidates for the position.

Why it matters: The U.S., either on a diplomatic or military level, is currently engaged in conflicts with Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and Afghanistan. Trump has thus far in his term had 3 national security advisers, a crucial position that heads up the White House National Security Council.


  • Top hostage negotiator Robert O'Brien.
  • Former deputy national security adviser Ricky Waddell.
  • Department of Energy undersecretary for nuclear security Lisa Gordon-Hagerty.
  • Bolton's former chief of staff Fred Fleitz.
  • Vice President Mike Pence's national security adviser Keith Kellogg.

Go deeper: The national security gaps in the Trump administration

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Trump names Robert O'Brien as national security adviser

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.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 2019

Report: Trump orders National Security staff cut

President Trump and Robert O'Brien on Sept. 18. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump "has ordered a substantial reduction" of the National Security Council's staff, Bloomberg reports, citing 5 people familiar with the president's plans.

The big picture: Some of those sources told Bloomberg the staff cuts are "part of a White House effort to make its foreign policy arm leaner under new National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien." But the move also follows a whistleblower complaint released by a CIA officer who was previously detailed to the National Security Council, per the NY Times.

Go deeperArrowOct 5, 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.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019