Donald Trump nominates Johnson & Johnson heir Woody Johnson as envoy to Britain

Mr Johnson, 70, owns the New York Jets - a member of the National Football League - and has an extensive record for raising cash for Republicans.
Mr Johnson, 70, owns the New York Jets - a member of the National Football League - and has an extensive record for raising cash for Republicans.REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday (June 22) that he will formally nominate Republican fundraiser and American football team owner Woody Johnson to be the US ambassador to Britain.

The pick had been expected since January, when the then president-elect announced his intention to tap Johnson as envoy to Washington's closest European ally during a leadership lunch with congressional Republicans and incoming cabinet members.

Johnson, 70, owns the New York Jets, a member of the National Football League, and has an extensive record for raising cash for Republicans.

Last year he was named a co-leader of Trump's national fundraising team.

He also comes from American enterprise royalty, being the heir to a vast Johnson & Johnson fortune. His great-grandfather founded the company in 1887, and it became a healthcare behemoth.

Incoming presidents often reward major supporters, donors or fundraisers with plum ambassadorial posts.

But the Trump administration is behind on filling key jobs.

Only nine of the US State Department's 121 political appointee positions have been taken by confirmed nominees, and only a handful of the more than 70 vacant ambassadorial roles are filled.

Johnson acquired the Jets in 2000. The team has had a winning season just once in the past six years, and their 2016 record ended with five wins and 11 losses.