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