President Donald Trump announced on Friday that State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert is his choice to succeed Nikki Haley as US ambassador to the United Nations.
Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump said Nauert had done a “great job” at the State Department.
“She’s very talented, very smart, very quick, and I think she’s going to be respected by all,” Trump said.
Nauert, a former Fox News host who arrived at the State Department in 2017, would be a relatively inexperienced newcomer in one of the most high-profile positions in US diplomacy. Her nomination sets the stage for a potentially tough Senate confirmation hearing, where Democrats will likely grill Nauert on her qualifications for the position.
In an administration rife with internal conflict and deeply distrustful of the UN, Nauert’s nomination would place a less senior person at the international agency than Haley, who reportedly sparred with other administration officials.
Nauert’s appointment would realign power dynamics within the President’s national security team. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told aides he wants the UN position downgraded from the Cabinet-level job Haley had insisted on, an official familiar with his remark has told CNN. Elevating Haley to a Cabinet-level post broke with the tradition of previous Republican administrations.
National security adviser John Bolton has been said to want the role downgraded as well, according to people familiar with his thinking. A former UN ambassador himself, Bolton has taken an interest in some UN matters, such as the International Criminal Court.
The shift means Nauert would wield less clout than her predecessor, both at the UN and within the administration, and as a result, would pose nowhere near the challenge to Bolton, White House chief of staff John Kelly or Pompeo.