Victoria Coates

Victoria Curtin Gardner Coates is an American art historian, blogger and political consultant. She served as Senior Advisor to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette in 2020 and later was appointed to run the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. She served on the United States National Security Council, originally as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Strategic Assessments before getting promoted to Deputy National Security Advisor upon the nomination of Robert C. O'Brien.[1][2]

Victoria Coates
Deputy National Security Advisor for Middle East and North African Affairs
In office
October 10, 2019 – February 21, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Personal details
BornLancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationTrinity College, Connecticut (BA)
Williams College (MA)
University of Pennsylvania (PhD)

Early life and educationEdit

Coates was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where her father, Eugene Herr Gardner,[3] started an investment firm.[4] She is a distant descendant of Andrew Gregg Curtin, who served as Governor of Pennsylvania during the Civil War.[5]

She attended Lancaster Country Day School through 1986. After earning an undergraduate degree at Trinity College, Connecticut, she obtained a master's degree in art history from Williams College in 1992, and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, where she wrote a dissertation on Camillo Massimo.[6][7] She later taught at the University as an occasional adjunct instructor.[5]

Political careerEdit

In the 2000s, she blogged mainly about foreign policy under the pen name "AcademicElephant" at the conservative blog RedState.[5][8] Her blog posts were read by aides of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who later recruited Coates to work as an advisor for his book, Known and Unknown: A Memoir, published in 2011.[5][9]

Coates served as an advisor to former Texas governor Rick Perry during his 2012 presidential bid.[10] She became an advisor to Ted Cruz in 2013 and his leading national security advisor during his 2016 presidential campaign.[5]

Her book David's Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art was published early in 2016 by Encounter Books. The book covers ten European artists and their major works, including Michelangelo (David), Jacques-Louis David (The Death of Marat), and Picasso (Guernica).[11]

Trump administrationEdit

Coates joined the White House when President Donald Trump took office in 2017 and became one of the President's longest-serving staffers. She was senior director at the National Security Council for the Middle East and North Africa, and in 2019, Robert C. O'Brien promoted her to Deputy National Security Advisor. As deputy, she split her duties with fellow deputy Matthew Pottinger.[12]

In February 2020, it became known that Coates was leaving the White House to become a senior advisor at the Energy Department;[13][14] the transfer officially occurred a few days later.[15]

As an advisor to the Energy Secretary, Coates was based in Saudi Arabia as Washington struggled to deal with a global oil price crash threatening U.S. energy producers during the COVID-19 pandemic.[16][17]

In December 2020, Coates was appointed to run the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.[18] In January 2021, she was fired from the position by the acting CEO of U.S. Agency for Global Media, Kelu Chao.[19][20]

Personal lifeEdit

Coates lives with her husband, George G. H. Coates Jr., a wine dealer [21] and chair of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives,[22] with their two children in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. They married while she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania.[5][23]


  1. ^ Toosi, Nahal. "Trump's new national security adviser shakes up staff". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
  2. ^ "O'Brien names new deputy national security adviser". Axios. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
  3. ^ "Eugene Herr Gardner". LancasterOnline. July 18, 2016. Retrieved 2022-03-29.
  4. ^ "Meet Art Historian Victoria Coates — Ted Cruz's Key National-Security Adviser". National Review. 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Jay Nordlinger (February 15, 2016) Meet Art Historian Victoria Coates — Ted Cruz’s Key National-Security Adviser National Review
  6. ^ Boucher, Brian (2017-02-14). "An Art Historian Serves on the National Security Council". Artnet News. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  7. ^ Gardner, Victoria Curtin. "Cardinal Camillo Massimo, Nicolas Poussin, and Claude Lorrain: A Study of Neostoic Patronage in Baroque Rome." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1998. Proquest dissertations 9840193.
  8. ^ Smith, Ben. "Perry's foreign policy, continued". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  9. ^ Diaz, Kevin (2016-01-11). "The art history professor behind Cruz's foreign policy". Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  10. ^ Weiner, Andrew Stefan (2017-06-01). "The Donald Trump Style of Art History". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 2022-03-29.
  11. ^ Victor Davis Hanson (April 25, 2016). "Art and the Free Man (book review)". National Review. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  12. ^ Talev, Margaret (October 10, 2019). "O'Brien names new deputy national security adviser". Axios. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "Trump's deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates leaving White House". Reuters. 2020-02-20. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  14. ^ McGraw, Meridith (February 20, 2020). "White House transfers top national security aide after whisper campaign". Politico. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  15. ^ Crowley, Michael (February 20, 2020). "Aide Accused of Being Anonymous Op-Ed Writer Is Reassigned to Energy Department". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  16. ^ Wadhams, Nick (March 24, 2020). "Former NSC Official Coates Going to Saudi Arabia Amid Price War". Bloomberg News. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  17. ^ "US to appoint Victoria Coates as special energy envoy to Saudi Arabia". The National. 24 March 2020. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  18. ^ "Falsely accused "Anonymous" re-emerges at VOA sister network". AP News. 2020-12-23. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
  19. ^ Folkenflik, David (January 22, 2021). "USAGM Chief Fires Trump Allies Over Radio Free Europe And Other Networks". NPR. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  20. ^ Lippman, Daniel (January 22, 2021). "Biden administration ousts Victoria Coates, who was falsely accused of being 'Anonymous'". Politico. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  21. ^ "George Coates Joins J. Soif, Inc. as Vice President and COO". Retrieved 2022-03-29.
  22. ^ Coates, George Jr. (2020-08-20). "Support for Black Lives Matter has put two local institutions at odds with actions and obligations". Broad + Liberty. Retrieved 2022-03-29.
  23. ^ "The Art of National-Security Advising". National Review. 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2020-04-22.