May 14, 2018 - President Donald Trump has tapped an Arent Fox LLP alumnus who specializes in litigation, as well as domestic and international arbitration, to help lead the U.S. government's response in situations involving hostages being held abroad.  

Trump announced on May 10 that he intends to appoint Robert Charles O’Brien, founding partner of the Southern California and Washington, D.C., trial and appellate firm Larson O'Brien LLP, to serve as his special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.

O'Brien, who has expertise in entertainment, intellectual property, oil and gas and contract and business tort matters, has extensive government and private sector experience in national security and foreign policy matters. Once appointed, O'Brien's responsibilities will include meeting with foreign leaders and helping to strategize on hostage-related issues with other senior U.S. policy makers.

Reached on Monday, O'Brien referred a request for comment to the White House. A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the nomination.

A former California managing partner at Arent Fox, O'Brien has been appointed as an arbitrator in more than a dozen domestic and international arbitrations and as a special discovery master in several recent large cases in California's central district, including the copyright case involving the makers of Barbie and Bratz dolls, according to the Larson O'Brien website.

O'Brien is no stranger to work in the international realm, having served as a senior legal officer with the U.N. Security Council in Geneva from 1996 to 1998, where he handled government claims against Iraq arising out of the first Gulf War. He also served as the U.S. alternate representative to the 60th session of the U.N. General Assembly in 2005 and 2006, and was appointed to serve a three-year term on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. government on the Convention on the Cultural Property Implementation Act, in July 2008.

In 2007, he was appointed by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the founding co-chair of the Private-Public Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan. Under Secretaries Rice and Hillary Clinton, O'Brien and fellow Larson O'Brien founding partner Stephen G. Larson helped conduct rule of law training programs for Afghan judges, prosecutors and lawyers and helped to establish an LLM program for young Afghan lawyers, according to the Larson O'Brien website.

A former major in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Army Reserve, O'Brien also served as a senior adviser to Govs. Mitt Romney and Scott Walker in their presidential campaigns.

O'Brien obtained his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1991.

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