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Matthew Pottinger is a former journalist and U.S. Marine Corps officer who currently serves in the U.S. National Security Council of the administration of Donald Trump.

Matt Pottinger
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service2005–2010 (active)
2010–present (reserve)
RankUS-O4 insignia.svg Major
Battles/warsIraq War
War in Afghanistan
AwardsBronze Star
Combat Action Ribbon
Defense Meritorious Service Medal

Early lifeEdit

Pottinger is the son of author and former Department of Justice official J. Stanley Pottinger.[1] He was educated at Milton Academy and is a schoolmate and childhood friend of fellow journalist John Avlon.[2][3][4] Pottinger graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with an undergraduate degree in Chinese studies; he is fluent in Mandarin.[5]

Journalistic careerEdit

Before he joined the United States Marine Corps, Pottinger worked as a journalist for Reuters between 1998 and 2001.[6][1] Then he moved to The Wall Street Journal until his retirement from journalism in 2005.[1] His stories won awards from the Society of Publishers in Asia and were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He covered a variety of topics, including the SARS epidemic and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami; in the latter assignment, he met United States Marines and was inspired by their courageousness.[6][1] He spent seven years reporting in China.[7][8] While interviewing Chinese workers in Beijing about their claims of government corruption, Pottinger was attacked by a government thug.[1][6][9]

Military careerEdit

In September 2005 Pottinger joined the Marine Corps and served as a military intelligence officer.[1] He was over-aged and out of shape when he joined. To meet the physical qualifications, he worked out with a Marine officer who was living in Beijing.[1] He served three deployments: one in Iraq from April to November 2007, and two in Afghanistan from November 2008 to May 2009 and July 2009 to May 2010.[10] On his second tour in Afghanistan, he met U.S. Army General Michael T. Flynn, with whom he co-wrote a report.[1][11] The report, published in January 2010 through the Center for a New American Security, was titled Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan.[12] Pottinger worked in New York City, including for the hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management, after he left active service.[1]

Political careerEdit

In a 2018 Politico profile, Pottinger was described as "a fairly typical conservative internationalist" who "has never been a Trump-style #MAGA conservative" and who donated to both Democrats and Republicans.[13] In 2017, he was hired as a member of the U.S. National Security Council of the administration of Donald Trump.[14][15][16] Michael Flynn, who Pottinger had worked for in the military, made him the NSC's Asia director, and he remained in his position under H. R. McMaster and John R. Bolton.

In 2018, the New York Times reported, with regard to the recently cancelled[17] North Korean summit[18] that "a senior White House official told reporters that even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed."[19][20] The President subsequently alleged that the New York Times had made up the existence of the unnamed White House official;[21] on Twitter the journalist Yashar Ali later posted audio of Pottinger giving the officially-organized background briefing cited by the Times,[22] in which, without actually using the word "impossible", he responded to a reporter's question about the feasibility of the originally-scheduled date by saying "We've lost quite a bit of time that we would need..." and "June 12th is in ten minutes."[23][13]

In his NSC position, Pottinger advocated a tough stance on China which combined trade policy with national security.[13][24]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "A Veteran and China Hand Advises Trump for Xi's Visit". The New York Times. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Matt Pottinger: Former Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow". Council of Foreign Relations. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  3. ^ Avlon, John (27 December 2005). "Gen Xer Joins the U.S. Marines". The New York Sun. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Captain Matthew Pottinger '91 Entreats Students Toward a Life of Service as the 2010 Veterans' Day Speaker". Milton Academy. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Trump taps Matt Pottinger to oversee Asian affairs". Korea JoongAng Daily. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Meet Captain Matt Pottinger". The Atlantic. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Reporter Moved to Become a U.S. Marine". ABC News. 1 January 2006. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  8. ^ Pottinger, Matt (15 December 2005). "Mightier Than the Pen". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  9. ^ "A young man and his ideals". The Hill. 6 October 2005. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  10. ^ "How bin Laden Catapulted One Man Into War". The Wall Street Journal. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Michael Flynn, General Chaos". The New Yorker. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  12. ^ Michael T. Flynn; Captain Matt Pottinger; Paul D. Batchelor (January 2010). "Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan" (PDF). Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  13. ^ a b c Crowley, Michael. "The White House Official Trump Says Doesn't Exist". POLITICO Magazine.
  14. ^ "Trump could make Obama's pivot to Asia a reality". The Washington Post. 8 January 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Mattis clashing with Trump transition team over Pentagon staffing". The Washington Post. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Flynn is creating the most military-heavy National Security Council of the modern era". The Washington Post. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  17. ^ "Trump Cancels Summit, North Korean Leaders Leave Door Open For Talks".
  18. ^ "Yashar Ali on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Trump Says North Korea Summit May Be Rescheduled". The New York Times. 25 May 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  20. ^ "Maggie Haberman on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Donald J. Trump on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Who is Matthew Pottinger? Audio of White House official debunks Trump "phony sources" smear against New York Times". Newsweek. 26 May 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  23. ^ Shear, Michael D (26 May 2018). "Trump Falsely Says Times Made Up Source in Report on Korea Summit Meeting". New York Times. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  24. ^ "Trump official Matt Pottinger quotes Confucius, in Chinese, to make point about language and truth". SupChina. 2 October 2018.

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