UN nom­i­nee grilled over ab­sences

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL / NATION - By David Wainer and Glen Carey

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pick for U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions was pressed at her con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing on why she was away from her cur­rent post as envoy to Canada for more than 300 days since tak­ing the job in Oc­to­ber 2017.

Kelly Craft, a prom­i­nent donor to Trump’s 2016 cam­paign, told the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee on Tues­day that she was fre­quently work­ing on the road and that the U.S. Em­bassy in Ot­tawa was al­ways staffed in her ab­sences. She also said all of her travel was preap­proved by the State De­part­ment.

Sen. Bob Me­nen­dez of New Jersey, the com­mit­tee’s top Demo­crat, said he had “deep reser­va­tions” about Craft’s “lack of qual­i­fi­ca­tions for such a com­plex and chal­leng­ing role” and de­manded a break­down of where Craft went dur­ing her time away from Ot­tawa. While donors to pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns reg­u­larly get plum diplo­matic jobs, the U.N. post his­tor­i­cally goes to peo­ple with ex­ten­sive government ex­pe­ri­ence.

“His­tor­i­cally, U.S. am­bas­sadors to the U.N. have brought sig­nif­i­cant ex­ec­u­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, or ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing di­rectly in for­eign pol­icy,” Me­nen­dez said.

Craft pushed back on ques­tions about her ex­pe­ri­ence, say­ing she would have a “very deep bench” at the U.N. and vow­ing to be avail­able “24/7” if con­firmed to re­place former Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley, who left in De­cem­ber. Repub­li­can Sens. Johnny Isak­son, Ted Cruz and Marco Ru­bio all sought to de­fend Craft’s ab­sences.

STE­FANI REYNOLDS /GETTY IM­AGES

Kelly Craft, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­nee to be rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the United Na­tions, tes­ti­fies on Wed­nes­day, in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

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