Brian H. Hook (born 1968) is an American diplomat, lawyer and government official. In 2021, he joined Cerberus Capital Management as vice chairman for global investments. He is an adjunct professor at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy.[1]

Brian Hook
United States Special Representative for Iran
In office
September 1, 2018 – August 6, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byStephen Mull (Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation)
Succeeded byElliott Abrams
Director of Policy Planning
In office
February 17, 2017 – September 1, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byJonathan Finer
Succeeded byKiron Skinner
Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
In office
October 7, 2008 – January 20, 2009
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byKristen Silverberg
Succeeded byEsther Brimmer
Personal details
Born1968 (age 55–56)
Political partyRepublican
EducationUniversity of St. Thomas (BA)
Boston College (MA)
University of Iowa (JD)

He served as U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from September 2018 to August 2020. He was the Director of Policy Planning under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.[2]


Hook received a bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of St. Thomas in 1990, a master's degree in philosophy from Boston College, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Iowa College of Law.


From 1999 to 2003, Hook practiced corporate law at Hogan & Hartson in Washington.[3]

During the George W. Bush administration, Hook served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs; Senior Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Special Assistant to the President for Policy in the White House Chief of Staff's office; and as Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, at the U.S. Justice Department.[2]

After the Bush administration, Hook founded Latitude, LLC, an international consulting firm based in Washington, DC. He serves on the advisory board of Beacon Global Strategies.[4]

Hook worked on the 2012 Romney campaign staff as senior advisor on foreign policy. He chaired the foreign policy and national security task forces of the Romney Readiness Project. He was the foreign policy director of Governor Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign from 2010 to 2011.[citation needed]

In 2013, he co-founded the John Hay Initiative,[5] an anti-isolationist group intended to inform political leaders about foreign policy.

In early 2017, Hook was appointed director of the Office of Policy Planning in the State Department by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Secretary's chief foreign policy adviser.[2]

Hook briefed Tillerson on and promoted the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, an approach by Japan and the U.S. to expand their Asia strategies to include India and the Persian Gulf, within the Trump administration.[6]

In 2018 Pompeo set up the Iran Action Group to coordinate and run U.S. policy toward Iran with Hook as its head.[7]

Hook spent months traveling between the US and Europe in an effort to negotiate an enhanced Iran nuclear agreement with European leaders. Hook also negotiated the release of two Iranian hostages, Xiyue Wang and Michael White.[2]

Hook meets with IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi during his official visit at the Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria on July 1, 2020.

Hook traveled to North Korea in May 2018 with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a meeting with Kim Jong Un and to free three American hostages.[8]

In September 2019, Hook was named as a candidate to replace John Bolton as the National Security Advisor.[9] 

In November 2019, Hook was the subject of controversy when an internal State Department report claimed he mishandled an employment issue with department official Sahar Nowrouzzadeh. Nowrouzzadeh had been the subject of a 2017 article in the Conservative Review which falsely claimed she was born in Iran and made disparaging remarks against her. The article was reportedly passed around the State Department, including to President Trump. Nowrouzzadeh reported the issue to Hook, but the internal report stated he did not take proper action.[10][11] The author of the internal report was later fired.[12]

Hook was a member of Trump's “Peace to Prosperity” plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hook accompanied the US Middle East envoy to focus on the economic and political components of the plan. This transpired into the Abraham Accords that were signed in 2020.[13]

U.S. Special Representative Brian Hook stands next to freed U.S. prisoner Xiyue Wang, who had been held in Iran for 3 years.

On August 6, 2020, Hook announced his resignation from the United States Department of State. Hook was succeeded in the position of Special Representative by Elliott Abrams.[14] He continued to work with Jared Kushner and the White House on the Middle East peace agreements known as the Abraham Accords.

After leaving the Trump administration, Hook joined Cerberus Capital Management as vice chairman of the alternative investment firm's international arm. Hook has also worked for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and U.S. Congressman Jim Leach.[15]

Hook was appointed by President Trump to the board of trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center at the Smithsonian Institution.[16] Hook serves on the board of trustees for Saint John's Seminary in Boston and the board of directors for the National Civic Art Society in Washington, DC.[17]

Abraham Accords/Middle East Peace Process

Hook planned the Ministerial to Promote Peace and Security in the Middle East, a conference held in Warsaw, Poland, in February 2019. The summit was attended by foreign ministers and diplomats from 60 countries.[18]

Hook coordinated secret talks between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to coordinate military and intelligence sharing against Iranian threats.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "Brian Hook Biography". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 2017-05-27. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  2. ^ a b c d "Trump's Iran whisperer". Vox. December 3, 2019. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  3. ^ "Iran One Year Later: The Trump Administration's Policy, Looking Back and Looking Forward". Vox. May 18, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  4. ^ "Brian Hook Joins BGS Board of Advisors". Beacon Global Strategies, LLC. December 21, 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  5. ^ O'Connor, Patrick (2015-09-27). "John Hay Group Seeks to Shape Candidates' Foreign-Policy Positions - Washington Wire - WSJ". Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  6. ^ "How the U.S. Learned to Stop Worrying About the Pacific and Love the 'Indo-Pacific'". Foreign Policy. July 30, 2021.
  7. ^ "Pompeo forms Iran Action Group for post-nuclear deal policy". aljazeera. 17 August 2018. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  8. ^ "U.S. willing to offer 'very bright future' if North Korea denuclearizes, says State Department official". PBS NewsHour. May 11, 2018.
  9. ^ Hudson, John (2019-09-13). "Trump vets candidates to replace Bolton amid GOP divisions on foreign policy". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2024-02-16.
  10. ^ Jakes, Lara (November 14, 2019). "State Dept. Career Employee Was Targeted as 'Loyalist' to Democrats, Inquiry Shows (Published 2019)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  11. ^ Finnegan, Connor; Siegel, Benjamin (March 15, 2018). "House Democrats say administration is pushing out State Dept. staffers not loyal to Trump". ABC News. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  12. ^ "Pompeo's moves against inspector general leave a trail of questions and a department divided". The Washington Post. May 18, 2020. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  13. ^ "Kushner says US Middle East peace plan addresses borders". Al Jazeera. February 26, 2019. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  14. ^ Sanger, David E.; Crowley, Michael (2020-08-06). "Iran Envoy Brian Hook, a 'Survivor' on Trump's Team, to Quit". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  15. ^ "Ex-Trump Iran Envoy Brian Hook Joins Cerberus". The Wall Street Journal. May 24, 2021. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  16. ^ "Leadership". Wilson Center. June 5, 2023. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  17. ^ "Leadership". National Civic Art Society. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  18. ^ "US-led Middle East conference in Warsaw: All you need to know". Al Jazeera. February 13, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  19. ^ "The U.S. Has Joined Secret Talks With Israel and the U.A.E. The Topic? Iran". The New York Times. August 15, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
Government offices
Preceded by Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
October 3, 2008 – January 20, 2009
Succeeded by