Matthew Pottinger is an American former journalist and U.S. Marine Corps officer who has served as the United States Deputy National Security Advisor since September 22, 2019.
Pottinger is the son of author and former Department of Justice official J. Stanley Pottinger. He was educated at Milton Academy and is a schoolmate and childhood friend of fellow journalist John Avlon. Pottinger graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with an undergraduate degree in Chinese studies; he is fluent in Mandarin.
Before he joined the United States Marine Corps, Pottinger worked as a journalist for Reuters between 1998 and 2001. Then he moved to The Wall Street Journal until his retirement from journalism in 2005. 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. He spent seven years reporting in China. While interviewing Chinese workers in Beijing about their claims of government corruption, Pottinger was attacked by a government thug.
In September 2005 Pottinger joined the Marine Corps and served as a military intelligence officer. 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. 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. On his second tour in Afghanistan, he met U.S. Army General Michael T. Flynn, with whom he co-wrote a report. 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. After he left active service, Pottinger worked in New York City, including for the hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management.
A 2018 Politico profile described Pottinger as "a fairly typical conservative internationalist" who "has never been a Trump-style #MAGA conservative" and who donated to both Democrats and Republicans. In 2017, he was hired as a member of the U.S. National Security Council of the administration of Donald Trump. Michael Flynn, whom 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 North Korean summit 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." The President subsequently alleged that the New York Times had made up the existence of the unnamed White House official; on Twitter the journalist Yashar Ali later posted audio of Pottinger giving the officially-organized background briefing cited by the Times, 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."
In his NSC position, Pottinger advocated a tough stance on China which combined trade policy with national security.
In September 2019, newly-installed National Security Advisor Robert C. O'Brien named Pottinger as Deputy National Security Advisor.
Pottinger has a wife and two children.