Trump nominates former Fox anchor as envoy to UN

Spokesman for the US State Department Heather Nauert was a correspondent and anchor at Fox News Channel.
Spokesman for the US State Department Heather Nauert was a correspondent and anchor at Fox News Channel.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Choice seen as tapping someone without policy experience to tackle world's challenges

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump has nominated State Department spokesman Heather Nauert as United States ambassador to the United Nations, tapping someone with no prior policy or political experience to deal with some of the world's thorniest issues.

Speaking to reporters at the White House yesterday, Mr Trump said Ms Nauert is "very talented, very smart, very quick and I think she will be respected by all".

Meanwhile, CNN reported yesterday, citing unnamed sources, that Mr Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly was expected to resign in the coming days.

White House representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, but the rocky relationship between Mr Trump and Mr Kelly, 68, a retired US Marine Corps general, has been widely reported.

The sources said the two were not on speaking terms but that no decision on his departure was final until it was announced.

In another announcement, Mr Trump said he has nominated Mr William Barr, a conservative lawyer who was attorney general in the administration of the late George H.W. Bush, to lead the Department of Justice. Mr Barr would replaced Mr Jeff Sessions, whom Mr Trump forced to resign last month.

Ms Nauert, whose nomination would require Senate confirmation, is a former Fox News Channel correspondent and anchor.

EXCELLENT CHOICE

She's excellent, she's been with us a long time, she's been a supporter for a long time, really - excellent.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, on Ms Heather Nauert.

She became the State Department's spokesman in April last year and was named earlier this year as the acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

If confirmed, Ms Nauert, 48, would succeed Ms Nikki Haley, who said in October she would be leaving the UN post at the end of the year.

Ms Nauert, who earlier this year had been considered a possible successor to White House spokesman Sarah Sanders, gained experience on diplomacy by working at the State Department, but she lacks the political and policy credentials of Ms Haley, a former South Carolina governor.

But having the direct support of the President and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could buttress her image among global diplomats at the UN, who have bristled at Mr Trump's "America First" foreign policy.

She will face a variety of challenges if confirmed for the job, including championing US efforts to contain Iran's influence in the Middle East and ensuring the global body maintains tough sanctions on North Korea as Washington negotiates an end to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.

Ms Nauert's appointment would reinforce the link between Fox News and Mr Trump, who has been accused of turning to the conservative-leaning channel, rather than experts, for policy advice.

Mr Trump has been critical of the UN, complaining about its cost and criticising it for focusing on bureaucracy rather than results.

He pulled the US out of the UN human rights body in September, citing bias towards Israel. His administration has cut funding for the UN refugee agency and last year proposed US funding cuts for aid and diplomacy.

But Mr Trump has also used the UN to try to advance his foreign policy agenda on Iran and North Korea. The administration has also worked through the UN to try to find a political solution to the wars in Syria and Yemen.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2018, with the headline 'Trump nominates former Fox anchor as envoy to UN'. Print Edition | Subscribe