WASHINGTON—President Trump named Robert C. O’Brien as his new national security adviser, picking a top hostage-affairs official for the high-profile White House role.
Mr. Trump tweeted the announcement Wednesday morning, writing “I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!”Donald J. Trump
I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O’Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor. I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!
Mr. O’Brien takes the job just as Mr. Trump faces a number of foreign-policy challenges, particularly as the administration determines how to respond to the recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, which U.S. officials have blamed on Iran. The new national security adviser will also take a leading role on addressing the crisis in Venezuela, as well as the president’s efforts to get North Korea to denuclearize.
Most recently, Mr. O’Brien was sent to Sweden to help negotiate the release of rapper A$AP Rocky, who was arrested after a violent altercation in Stockholm this summer. Mr. Trump had raised concern publicly over the rapper’s fate and Mr. O’Brien was sent to see what he could do. The rapper was later found guiltyby a Swedish court, but won’t serve jail time.
The national security adviser post, which doesn’t require Senate confirmation, heads up a staff of several hundred specialists—or detailees, as they are known—from the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies.
His weekend Twitter outburst calls into question his ability to discharge his powers.
President Trump’s out-of-control weekend Twitter storm has raised these concerns to new heights. Our European allies no longer know what to believe. “Is it deeds? Is it words? Is it tweets?” asked Germany’s foreign minister at the annual Munich Security Conference. While senior administration officials offered reaffirmations of traditional American positions, our allies did not know whether they were speaking for the president and if so, for how long.
We know what is required of every American citizen. It is enshrined in the oath that every naturalized citizen must take—to “defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Surely no less is required of the president. But when his own national security adviser stated that “the evidence is now incontrovertible” that Russia worked to undermine our most basic constitutional processes during the past election, Mr. Trump slapped him down with a tendentious tweet.
He has repeatedly chosen to take the word of Vladimir Putin, the autocratic ruler of Russia and a former KGB agent, over the judgment of the entire U.S. intelligence community.
Mr. Putin’s Russia, which is waging war in Eastern Europe and propping up Bashar Assad in Syria, has become an enemy of the U.S. Can any fair-minded person say that the president is doing what he should to defend our Constitution and laws against this threat?
.. President Trump regards any affirmation of Russian electoral influence as an attack on the legitimacy of his 2016 victory. He cannot distinguish between the national interest and his own insecurities, making it impossible for him to acknowledge the nature of the Russian threat.
.. It is time for the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, and the national security adviser to confront Mr. Trump, collectively and directly, to inform him that unless he publicly affirms the reality of the Russian threat and authorizes the strongest possible response to it, they will have no honorable alternative to resignation. They swore an oath of loyalty to the Constitution, not to Mr. Trump.
.. With Mr. Trump, we face the incapacitation of character—an inability to master his passions sufficiently to distinguish between the country’s well-being and his fathomless self-regard.
.. The Americans who supported Mr. Trump in 2016 had genuine grievances that both parties had neglected for far too long.
But he is a deeply, dangerously flawed instrument of their purposes. In choosing him, they made a mistake that threatens America and the world.