In more staff changes, Trump taps at­tor­ney gen­eral, U.N. en­voy

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON: In an­other se­nior staff shake-up in­side his of­ten tur­bu­lent ad­min­is­tra­tion, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Fri­day that he has picked the two peo­ple he wants to be the next U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral and the next U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Nations.

He said he will nom­i­nate Wil­liam Barr, who was at­tor­ney gen­eral un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush in the 1990s, to fill that top job again at the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment. Barr would re­place act­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Matthew Whi­taker, who has been in that po­si­tion since Trump forced out Jeff Ses­sions a month ago.

Trump also said he will put for­ward State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert as am­bas­sador to the United Nations. Nauert, a for­mer host at Fox News Chan­nel, would re­place Nikki Haley, who an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that she would re­sign at the end of this year.

Both ap­point­ments would re­quire U.S. Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion.

Trump, speak­ing to re­porters out­side the White House, also said he would make a per­son­nel an­nounce­ment con­cern­ing the Pen­tagon Satur­day. “It will have to do with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the suc­ces­sion,” he told re­porters out­side the White House. Of­fi­cials told Reuters that Trump will nom­i­nate Gen. Mark Mil­ley as his next top

mil­i­tary ad­viser. Sep­a­rately, CNN re­ported that John Kelly is ex­pected to re­sign in com­ing days as White House chief of staff, cit­ing uniden­ti­fied sources.

The pro­posed changes come as the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent faces an­other dif­fi­cult stretch. Democrats are promis­ing ag­gres­sive over­sight of Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties when they take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in Jan­uary af­ter their gains in last month’s elec­tions.

Spe­cial coun­sel Robert Muller is con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, any col­lu­sion be­tween Moscow and Trump’s cam­paign and pos­si­ble ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.

Barr, who was at­tor­ney gen­eral un­der Bush from 1991 to 1993 and has worked in the pri­vate sec­tor since then, would over­see Mueller’s probe if the Se­nate con­firms him in the job again.

Barr is likely to face pres­sure at his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings to show he would pro­tect Mueller from po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence. Crit­ics of Trump have long been con­cerned that the pres­i­dent wants to end the Mueller probe. Trump de­nies any col­lu­sion with Rus­sia or any ob­struc­tion of jus­tice. Barr also may face scru­tiny about past com­ments ques­tion­ing the po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions of Mueller’s team and sup­port­ing Trump’s de­ci­sion last year to fire FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey. Trump called Barr “a ter­rific man, a ter­rific per­son, a bril­liant man,” in re­marks as he left for an out-of-town event.

“He was my first choice from day one. Re­spected by Repub­li­cans and re­spected by Democrats. He will be nom­i­nated for United States at­tor­ney gen­eral and hope­fully that process will go very quickly,” Trump said.

Whi­taker, a for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney who is cur­rently act­ing head of the Jus­tice Depart­ment, has drawn crit­i­cism for past busi­ness ven­tures and crit­i­cal com­ments about the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­fore he joined the depart­ment.

Trump mocked and be­lit­tled Ses­sions for more than a year, an­gry at Ses­sions’ de­ci­sion to re­cuse him­self from over­see­ing the Rus­sia probe be­cause he had worked for Trump’s elec­tion cam­paign.

Mean­while, if con­firmed to the U.N. am­bas­sador post, Nauert would bring lit­tle diplo­matic ex­pe­ri­ence to a highly vis­i­ble in­ter­na­tional role.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Repub­li­can, praised Nauert as “one of the United States’ strong­est voices on the global stage.” Democrats were less en­thu­si­as­tic. “She’s clearly not qual­i­fied for this job, but these days it seems that the most im­por­tant qual­i­fi­ca­tion is that you show up on Don­ald Trump’s TV screen,” Demo­cratic Sen. Chris Mur­phy said on CNN.

Other nations with veto power on the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil are all rep­re­sented by am­bas­sadors with decades of for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence.

Nauert would suc­ceed Haley, a for­mer South Carolina gover­nor who also had lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in world af­fairs be­fore she took the job. Haley in­sisted that she be made a mem­ber of Trump’s Cab­i­net and his Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to bol­ster her power within the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Bring­ing Nauert aboard in a sub-Cab­i­net role could di­min­ish the po­si­tion, said Stephen Pom­per, a for­mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial. –

Trump talks to sup­port­ers wait­ing for him on the tar­mac as he ar­rives in Kansas City, Mis­souri.

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