Admirer, friend and disciple of William F. Buckley, conservative author and television commentator, he held several positions in Mr. Bush’s administration, most notably as adviser to the American Ambassador to the United Nations – John R. Bolton , with whom he would later clash with Iranian politics. He also continued to teach at Duke University during his tenure and said he would continue in that position.
Mr. Hook joined the Trump administration in early 2017, under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as director of the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning. Mr. Tillerson gave this office increased influence over all ministry initiatives, and Mr. Hook became one of his closest advisers.
It was Mr. Tillerson who introduced him to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor. The White House at the time had, in essence, no foreign policy – just a series of statements by Mr. Trump. Mr Kushner said in an interview on Wednesday that Mr Hook “has helped us develop an approach to the world that we are currently running”.
“Brian was the traveling companion who could help guide very smooth meetings with foreign leaders,” giving updates on Iran to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, among others. And it was Mr. Hook who came up with the idea of sending Twitter messages from Mr. Trump’s Farsi account to the Iranians.
He had his detractors within the State Department, who saw him as a political actor. Last November, a State Department Inspector General report found that in early 2017, Mr. Hook was instrumental in the reassignment of a career non-partisan public servant to his office after the Tories accused her of sympathy with Mr. Obama and the Iran nuclear deal. Mr. Hook denied any political motivation for the reassignment.
His record of diplomatic success was mixed. As Mr. Trump threatened to back out of the Iran deal in 2018, Mr. Hook met regularly with Western European officials in an ultimately futile effort to convince them – especially the Germans – to reopen the deal. and harden its conditions. The effort failed, and Mr. Trump’s decision to exit the deal led to a break with European powers, Russia and China over Iranian policy that has remained to this day.
He was among the few best employees in the department to survive the transition after Mr. Tillerson was ousted and replaced by Mike Pompeo, then director of the CIA. Mr Pompeo told Mr Hook about the full-time Iran case, a job he pursued doggedly, including when he personally emailed the captain of an Iranian tanker carrying oil. to Syria in violation of US sanctions, offering him millions of dollars if he put the ship in the hands of a US ally. (It did not work.)