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Ex-national security adviser Robert O'Brien is subpoenaed by special counsel in Trump probes

Special counsel Jack Smith's office wants to question O'Brien about Trump’s handling of classified documents and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a source confirmed.
President Donald Trump with National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien
President Donald Trump with national security adviser Robert O'Brien on Sept. 18, 2019, at Los Angeles.Nichola Kamm / AFP via Getty Images file

Special counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed former Trump national security adviser Robert O'Brien as part of his probes into the former president's handling of classified documents and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News.

The move comes as Smith — who was appointed special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland — appears to have reached a new phase in the investigation. Former Vice President Mike Pence has also been subpoenaed by Smith for information about former President Donald Trump's effort to stay in office after the 2020 election and his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

O'Brien, who declined comment, was Trump’s fourth and final national security adviser, serving from September 2019 until the end of the administration on Jan. 20, 2021.

He had been among a small group of Trump’s top officials to acknowledge Joe Biden’s election victory, saying in November 2020 that the National Security Council was preparing for “a very professional transition.”

O’Brien sat for an interview with the House committee that was investigating the Jan. 6 riot last year. His former deputy, Matthew Pottinger, testified before the panel at a public hearing that he resigned because of the riot but stayed on overnight at O’Brien’s urging because O’Brien was returning from a trip.

The O’Brien subpoena was first reported by CNN.