Trump taps Nauert as UN en­voy, Barr as new at­tor­ney gen­eral

Kuwait Times - - International -

WASH­ING­TON: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day nom­i­nated State Depart­ment spokes­woman and for­mer Fox News an­chor Heather Nauert as his next am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions - a swift el­e­va­tion for a sup­porter who had no diplo­matic ex­pe­ri­ence un­til last year. Nauert, who has shown poise in front of the cam­eras and mostly avoided gaffes, would suc­ceed Nikki Ha­ley, a for­mer South Carolina gover­nor seen as en­ter­tain­ing am­bi­tions for higher po­lit­i­cal of­fice.

Trump said he was im­pressed by the 48-year-old Nauert, a for­mer an­chor of “Fox and Friends”, one of the tele­vi­sion-lov­ing pres­i­dent’s fa­vorite shows. “She’s very tal­ented, very smart, very quick, and I think she’s go­ing to be re­spected by all,” Trump told re­porters. Nauert said on Twit­ter she was “hum­bled” by Trump’s con­fi­dence in her and looked for­ward “to con­tin­u­ing the out­stand­ing job Amb. Ha­ley has done rep­re­sent­ing your ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

Nauert, who had been ru­mored as the top pick for the job since Ha­ley’s res­ig­na­tion, be­come the spokes­woman of the State Depart­ment af­ter Trump’s elec­tion de­spite no pre­vi­ous back­ground in for­eign af­fairs. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Eliot En­gel, the in­com­ing Demo­cratic chair­man of the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said he was “un­easy” about Nauert’s lack of ex­pe­ri­ence, as the UN job “re­quires face-to-face ne­go­ti­a­tions with im­por­tant al­lies and hard­ened ad­ver­saries”. But the Sen­ate, which alone needs to con­firm Nauert, is still un­der the con­trol of Trump’s Repub­li­can Party.

It is widely ex­pected that the po­si­tion will lose its cur­rent cab­i­net sta­tus, mean­ing she would be clearly sub­or­di­nate to Bolton and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, her cur­rent boss. Pom­peo said on Twit­ter that he had “great con­fi­dence” in Nauert and called for her quick con­fir­ma­tion. Praise for the ap­point­ment came from Is­rael, which has long counted on the United States to veto un­friendly res­o­lu­tions on the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Ha­ley, in what could be a fi­nal diplo­matic push, on Thurs­day failed in a bid for the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly to con­demn the Pales­tinian Is­lamist move­ment Ha­mas for fir­ing rock­ets at Is­rael.

Trump also on Fri­day tapped Wil­liam Barr, a con­ser­va­tive lawyer who was at­tor­ney gen­eral in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the late Ge­orge HW Bush, to lead the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice. Barr would suc­ceed Jeff Ses­sions, who Trump sacked last month amid ris­ing pres­sure on the White House from the Rus­sia col­lu­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller. “Bill Barr will be nom­i­nated for the United States At­tor­ney Gen­eral po­si­tion. I think he will serve with great dis­tinc­tion,” Trump told re­porters. “He was my first choice from day one. Re­spected by Repub­li­cans and re­spected by Democrats,” he added, de­scrib­ing Barr as “a ter­rific man, a ter­rific per­son, a bril­liant man”.

Barr had emerged in re­cent days as a con­sen­sus can­di­date for the highly sen­si­tive post. He does how­ever have a record of en­dors­ing strong ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers, which could play into high-stakes le­gal bat­tles on ev­ery­thing from im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy to war pow­ers to whether the pres­i­dent can be re­quired to give tes­ti­mony in the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He ex­pressed sup­port in May 2017 when Trump fired then-FBI di­rec­tor James Comey, which has led Mueller to in­ves­ti­gate whether Trump ob­structed jus­tice, and last year backed Trump’s calls to re­open in­ves­ti­ga­tions into his 2016 ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Heather Nauert

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