USA Politics First Look

Who is Monica Crowley, Trump's latest national security team addition?

Dr. Crowley is one of two key national security appointments announced Thursday.

Monica Crowley smiles as she exits the elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016.
Evan Vucci/AP | Caption

Monica Crowley will be the senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council (NSC), Donald Trump’s transition team announced Thursday.

Dr. Crowley, who holds a PhD in international relations from Columbia University in New York, began her career as a research assistant and confidante to former President Richard Nixon in 1990 until his passing in 1994. She has since been a Fox News analyst, hosted a conservative radio show, and authored several books as well as a column in The Washington Times.

Since its inception by President Harry Truman in 1947, the NSC has served as “the President’s principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters.”

President-elect Trump’s transition team also announced the appointment of Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg Thursday to the position of NSC’s chief of staff and executive secretary. 

Lt. Gen. Kellogg and Crowley will serve under the council’s previously announced leaders: retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser and K.T. McFarland as deputy national security adviser.

As a figure in the conservative media, a vocal critic of President Obama, with little national leadership experience and outspoken support for Trump, Crowley fits the mold of the president-elect’s previous pattern of appointments and nominations.

Ms. McFarland and chief strategist Steve Bannon also have media-related resumes. Top cabinet nominees Ben Carson (for secretary of Housing and Urban Development), Rex Tillerson (for secretary of State), Rick Perry (for secretary of Energy), and Scott Pruitt (Environmental Protection Agency) all have shown similar levels of loyalty to Trump while clearly exhibiting indirect – or nontraditional – experience for their job assignments.

The Christian Science Monitor’s Peter Grier explained the pattern further, comparing Trump’s appointments to a season of "Survivor: Bureaucracy." 

But comparing Trump’s staff moves to casting a reality show is not totally over the top. Trump won a stunning victory in large part by providing the media a campaign story they could not resist, producing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free coverage. Why should he stop the drama now?

But Crowley’s role is anything but insignificant. She will be replacing Ben Rhodes, Obama’s senior national security advisor, who has been "an influential player on foreign policy issues and a close advisor to the president," explains The Washington Post. 

As director of strategic communications, Mr. Rhodes ran the Iran-deal messaging campaign and negotiated the reopening of American-Cuban relations. He is the "single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from POTUS himself," says The New York Times. Indeed, Rhodes had "a critical hand in shaping the administration’s global security policies and then selling those policies to the world," adds the Daily Beast

How Crowley will handle the role, however, is yet to be determined.

"I am deeply honored, humbled and grateful to be asked by the President-elect to join the extraordinary national security team he is assembling," said Crowley in a statement. "With vision, courage and moral clarity, he is committed fully to reestablishing America’s singular place in the world."