Ex-Speaker's wife set to be US' Vatican envoy

The decision to nominate Mrs Callista Gingrich, seen here with husband Newt Gingrich in 2013, as the next US envoy to the Holy See is reportedly pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics.
The decision to nominate Mrs Callista Gingrich, seen here with husband Newt Gingrich in 2013, as the next US envoy to the Holy See is reportedly pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Less than two weeks before a potentially tense and diplomatically delicate meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, President Donald Trump has apparently settled on nominating Mrs Callista Gingrich, the wife of Mr Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, as US ambassador to the Holy See.

The decision is pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics, according to CNN.

Mr Gingrich declined to confirm or deny that his wife would be nominated, saying only that he and his wife were told to "be very cautious" until an actual nomination was announced.

The idea of nominating Mrs Gingrich first became public in January, and during the transition Mr Trump half-jokingly said he was intrigued by the idea of picking Mrs Gingrich because it could also get Mr Gingrich - with whom he has a hot-and-cold relationship - out of his hair, according to a person with knowledge of Mr Trump's remarks.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

Over recent months, Mrs Gingrich and her husband grew increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of the vetting process, and she even threatened to take her name out of the running, according to one of the people.

Others who were considered include Mr Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, who was an early favourite for the position but who reportedly took his name out of the running because of the financial strain it would put on his family.

Mrs Gingrich, a member of the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, played a critical role in Mr Gingrich's conversion to Catholicism.

But she also played a role in breaking up his second marriage, according to his former wife, Ms Marianne Ginther. The couple divorced in 1999.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-Speaker's wife set to be US' Vatican envoy'. Print Edition | Subscribe