Heather Nauert likely to be quizzed on her diplo­matic re­sume

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Deb Riech­mann

WASH­ING­TON >> Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pick to be Amer­ica’s top am­bas­sador at the United Na­tions is likely to face ques­tions about her thin diplo­matic re­sume dur­ing an up­com­ing Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing that will shine fresh at­ten­tion on the pres­i­dent’s “Amer­ica first” ap­proach to for­eign pol­icy.

If con­firmed by the Se­nate, Heather Nauert, a 48-year-old for­mer Fox News Chan­nel re­porter, will re­place Nikki Ha­ley. Nauert had lit­tle for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore tak­ing the podium as spokes­woman for the State Depart­ment.

Nauert’s con­fir­ma­tion could hinge on her per­for­mance at the hear­ing. Still, she stands a good chance of ap­proval be­cause af­ter the new Congress be­gins in Jan­uary, Repub­li­cans will have a 53-47 vote ma­jor­ity over Democrats in the Se­nate.

In an­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion on Fri­day, Trump said Nauert was “very tal­ented, very smart, very quick.” He said he thought she would be “re­spected by all.”

Oth­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to Rus­sia, Michael McFaul, crit­i­cized the choice. Nauert’s job as spokes­woman at State is “to read talk­ing points and ex­plain pol­icy,” McFaul tweeted. The job of U.N. am­bas­sador is very dif­fer­ent, he said, and usu­ally re­quires for­eign pol­icy or diplo­matic ex­per­tise or both.

Trump backer Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., is­sued a state­ment prais­ing Nauert, but his Re­pub­li­can col­leagues who sit on the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee were silent.

“I’ve known Heather for many years. She is a fine and ca­pa­ble per­son,” Gra­ham said, adding that she had the con­fi­dence of Trump and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo.

“I’m sure she will per­form well at her hear­ing and look for­ward to sup­port­ing her nom­i­na­tion.”

If she gets the job, Nauert would take the post with less clout than Ha­ley, a for­mer South Carolina gov­er­nor who an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that she would step down at the end of this year.

Trump is down­grad­ing the am­bas­sador’s po­si­tion to a sub-Cab­i­net-level post. That means Nauert could be over­shad­owed by Pom­peo or Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, John Bolton, who had the U.N. job in 2005 and 2006. She also would be go­ing up against for­eign coun­ter­parts like the U.N. rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Rus­sia and China, who each have decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in diplo­macy.

Nauert thanked Trump and said she was hum­bled at be­ing cho­sen. “If con­firmed, I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing the out­stand­ing job Am­bas­sador Ha­ley has done rep­re­sent­ing your ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

Trump’s an­nounce­ment comes just a day af­ter the U.S. lost a high-pro­file vote in the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly for a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing the Pales­tinian mil­i­tant group Ha­mas. Ha­ley had lob­bied hard to get the res­o­lu­tion passed, but couldn’t garner the two-thirds ma­jor­ity needed.

Ha­ley her­self ar­rived at the United Na­tions with lit­tle for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence be­yond pro­mot­ing in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ments in South Carolina. How­ever, she quickly learned key is­sues and how the U.N. op­er­ates.

Be­cause of her work at the State Depart­ment, Nauert would have the ad­van­tage of al­ready know­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s po­si­tion on all ma­jor global is­sues. But with­out be­ing a mem­ber of the Cab­i­net, she wouldn’t have the same in­de­pen­dence that Ha­ley has en­joyed.

Pom­peo tweeted that Nauert has trav­eled with him since he took the helm of the State Depart­ment. “I have great con­fi­dence in her. Heather plays a key role in ad­vanc­ing U.S. for­eign pol­icy & I look for­ward to her speedy con­fir­ma­tion.”

She also would ar­rive at a time when Trump and mem­bers of his for­eign pol­icy team have all dis­played some­times open con­tempt for the United Na­tions and its af­fil­i­ated agen­cies.

In its first two years, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has pulled out of the U.N. sci­en­tific, ed­u­ca­tional and cul­tural or­ga­ni­za­tion UNESCO, the U.N. Hu­man Rights Coun­cil and threat­ened to leave the In­ter­na­tional Postal Union. It has cut off con­tri­bu­tions for the U.N. agency for Pales­tinian refugees and U.N. pop­u­la­tion fund. It has also sought to re­duce fund­ing for U.N. peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions.

Pom­peo, Nauert’s cur­rent boss, re­cently de­liv­ered a speech at­tack­ing multi­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions and agree­ments that many be­lieve have served as pil­lars of sta­bil­ity in the postWorld War II era.

In that speech in Brus­sels, Pom­peo ques­tioned the value and cred­i­bil­ity of or­ga­ni­za­tions like the U.N., the Euro­pean Union, the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund and World Bank, say­ing they are in need of dire change if they are to con­tinue to have U.S. sup­port or mem­ber­ship.

“Ha­ley lost a de­gree of au­ton­omy when John Bolton be­came the na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, be­cause he had strong views about the U.N,” said Stephen Pom­per of the Cri­sis Group, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that works to pre­vent wars.

“Bring­ing Nauert aboard in a sub-Cab­i­net role will di­min­ish the po­si­tion yet fur­ther,” said Pom­per, who worked at the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. “For bet­ter or worse, the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s U.N. pol­icy is pretty es­tab­lished at this point, and there’s no rea­son to ex­pect that Nauert will de­vi­ate from the ‘Amer­ica First’ course that Ha­ley, Bolton, and Pom­peo have set.”

ALEX BRAN­DON, FILE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Trump an­nounced Fri­day he’s nom­i­nat­ing State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert to be the next U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions.

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