WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 18, 2019 (Gephardt Daily/UPI) — When Donald Trump named attorney Robert C. O’Brien as his national security adviser, succeeding John Bolton, the president also made O’Brien the government’s highest-ranking member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Washington Post reports.
“Upon taking the job, O’Brien will become the highest-ranking Mormon in the U.S. government, an important development for a religious community that has shown some skepticism of Trump and will be a closely watched voting demographic in states such as Arizona,” the article says. “O’Brien converted from Catholicism in his 20s.”
Trump announced the appointment of O’Brien, who was serving as special presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department under Secretary Mike Pompeo, on Twitter. The position does not require Senate confirmation.
How relevant O’Brien’s religion will be to his position is an unknown, but he is getting high praise for his work ethic and integrity.
“I have worked long and hard with Robert,” Trump tweeted. “He will do a great job.”
Utah Senator Mitt Romney also tweeted his confidence in O’Brien:
“Congratulations to my friend Robert O’Brien, who the President has appointed to serve as National Security Advisor. As the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, he has doggedly pursued the release of American hostages abroad. He is a man of the highest integrity.”
O’Brien, Trump’s fourth national security adviser since taking office, replaces Bolton, a harsh Iran critic who had a rocky relationship with other Cabinet members before leaving the job last week.
O’Brien served as the U.S. alternate representative to the United Nations General Assembly under President George W. Bush in 2005-06. He was the founding co-chair of the Department of State Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2011 under Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.
He worked as a senior legal officer for the U.N. Security Council in Geneva from 1996 to 1998, where he addressed claims against Iraq that came out of the first Gulf War. O’Brien served as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve JAG Corps.