Trump names Nauert for U.N. am­bas­sador

For­mer Fox re­porter, State spokes­woman tapped for po­si­tion

Houston Chronicle - - NEWSMAKERS -

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

“She’s very tal­ented, very smart, very quick, and I think she’s go­ing to be re­spected by all,” Trump said Fri­day be­fore de­part­ing the White House for an event in Kansas City, Mo.

If she is con­firmed by the Se­nate, Nauert, a for­mer Fox News Chan­nel re­porter who had lit­tle for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore be­com­ing State Depart­ment spokes­woman, will re­place Nikki Haley. Haley, a for­mer South Carolina gover­nor, an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that she will step down at the end of this year. Nauert would be a lead­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion voice on Trump’s for­eign pol­icy.

Trump told re­porters last month that Nauert was “ex­cel­lent,” adding, “She’s been a sup­porter for a long time.”

Plucked from Fox by the White House to serve as State Depart­ment spokes­woman, Nauert cat­a­pulted into the up­per ech­e­lons of the agency’s hier­ar­chy when Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son was fired in March and re­placed with Mike Pom­peo. Nauert was then ap­pointed act­ing un­der­sec­re­tary of state for pub­lic diplo­macy and pub­lic af­fairs and was for a time the high­est-rank­ing woman and fourth high­es­trank­ing of­fi­cial in the build­ing.

Nauert, who did not have a good re­la­tion­ship with Tiller­son and had con­sid­ered leav­ing the depart­ment, told as­so­ciates at the time she was taken aback by the pro­mo­tion of­fer and rec­om­mended a col­league for the job. But when White House of­fi­cials told her they wanted her, she ac­cepted.

That role gave her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties far be­yond the news con­fer­ences she held in the State Depart­ment briefing room. She over­saw pub­lic diplo­macy in Wash­ing­ton and all of the roughly 275 over­seas U.S. em­bassies, con­sulates and other posts. She was in charge of the Global En­gage­ment Cen­ter that fights ex­trem­ist mes­sag­ing from the Is­lamic State group and oth­ers.

Just 18 months ago, she wasn’t even in gov­ern­ment.

Nauert was a break­ing news an­chor on Trump’s fa­vorite tele­vi­sion show, “Fox & Friends,” when she was tapped to be the face and voice of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s for­eign pol­icy. With a mas­ter’s de­gree from Columbia Univer­sity’s Grad­u­ate School of Jour­nal­ism, she had moved to Fox from ABC News, where she was a gen­eral as­sign­ment re­porter. She hadn’t spe­cial­ized in for­eign pol­icy or in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

Shut out from the top by Tiller­son and his in­ner cir­cle, Nauert de­vel­oped re­la­tion­ships with ca­reer diplo­mats. Barred from trav­el­ing with Tiller­son, she em­barked on her own over­seas trips, vis­it­ing Bangladesh and Myan­mar last year to see the plight of Ro­hingya Mus­lims, and then Is­rael af­ter a planned stop in Syria was scrapped.

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders de­scribed Nauert in March as “a team player” and “a strong as­set for the ad­min­is­tra­tion.”


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