Nauert of State Dept. is Trump’s U.N. pick

Former Fox News an­chor would re­place Ha­ley as am­bas­sador

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOHN HUD­SON, CAROL MORELLO AND JOSH DAWSEY

Pres­i­dent Trump plans to nom­i­nate State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert as the next U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, two se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said Thurs­day, as he seeks to ad­vance his “Amer­ica First” agenda on the world stage.

If con­firmed by the Se­nate, the nom­i­na­tion would el­e­vate a for­eign pol­icy novice into the top ech­e­lons of U.S. diplo­macy as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ramps up pres­sure against Iran and de­mands that al­lies take on more re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own se­cu­rity.

Nauert joined the State Depart­ment last year with no gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence after a ca­reer as an an­chor and cor­re­spon­dent at Fox News. She would re­place Nikki Ha­ley, who was twice elected gov­er­nor of South Carolina but also lacked for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence.

In her new role, Nauert would be re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing in­ter­na­tional sup­port for eco-

nomic sanc­tions against North Korea and con­tin­u­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion's un­flinch­ing sup­port for Is­rael in the face of mount­ing scru­tiny at the United Na­tions.

A former news re­porter for ABC, Nauert joined Fox in 1996, orig­i­nally as a cor­re­spon­dent and later as a co-host for “Fox and Friends.” Trump is one of the show’s big­gest fans, and he of­ten finds in­spi­ra­tion in the hosts’ re­marks as top­ics for his morn­ing tweets.

Nauert, who left Fox in April 2017, earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a stal­wart de­fender of the pres­i­dent even through the tur­bu­lent ten­ure of Trump's first sec­re­tary of state, Rex Tiller­son.

She and the Texas oil­man never es­tab­lished a close work­ing re­la­tion­ship. She did not ac­com­pany him on over­seas trips or par­tici- pate in his meet­ings with for­eign dig­ni­taries, and aides con­fided it was largely be­cause he con­sid­ered her a White House loy­al­ist with par­tic­u­larly close ties to Jared Kush­ner and Ivanka Trump.

Nauert’s first year on the job was frus­trat­ing, U.S. of­fi­cials said, and she be­gan to emerge only after Trump fired Tiller­son by tweet. She marked her first an­niver­sary in the po­si­tion dur­ing her first for­eign trip with a sec­re­tary of state, go­ing to Toronto with John Sul­li­van, the deputy sec­re­tary of state who was act­ing as sec­re­tary un­til Mike Pom­peo was con­firmed.

Un­der Pom­peo, whose for­eign pol­icy views more closely align with Trump’s than Tiller­son’s did, Nauert be­came part of the in­ner cir­cle. They met reg­u­larly, and she usu­ally trav­eled with Pom­peo on trips abroad. He pro­moted her to un­der­sec­re­tary of state for pub­lic diplo­macy and pub­lic af­fairs, a job va­cated by Steve Gold­stein, who was fired along with Tiller­son.

Nauert could not be reached for com­ment.

Crit­ics of the ad­min­is­tra­tion were quick to pounce on her nom­i­na­tion as priz­ing loy­alty over ex­pe­ri­ence.

“While Nikki Ha­ley didn't bring for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence, she ran a state,” said Brett Bruen, a former State Depart­ment of­fi­cial. “Nauert’s per­for­mance as act­ing un­der­sec­re­tary of state was no­table for its lack of ac­com­plish­ments or even at­ten­tion to the job. It does not present a com­pelling case, nor en­gen­der con­fi­dence in the Se­nate, that she is ready for a such a se­nior po­si­tion.”

A se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss per­son­nel de­ci­sions, said Nauert would be “an out­stand­ing ad­vo­cate for the Amer­i­can peo­ple at the U.N.”

“She’s hard-work­ing, she’s smart and she never gives up in ad­vanc­ing an agenda that works for the United States,” the of­fi­cial said.

Nauert is the lat­est trans­plant from Fox News to be ap­pointed to a se­nior Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion job, fol­low­ing the ad­di­tion of Fox News ex­ec­u­tive Bill Shine as a top com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser. White House na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton also worked as a Fox News con­trib­u­tor.

When Ha­ley an­nounced her plans to re­sign in early Oc­to­ber, Trump praised her ac­com­plish­ments.

“She’s done a fan­tas­tic job, and we’ve done a fan­tas­tic job to­gether,” he said dur­ing a meet­ing with Ha­ley at the Oval Of­fice. “She’s a fan­tas­tic per­son, very im­por­tantly, but she also is some­body that gets it.”

“It was a bless­ing to go into the U.N. with body ar­mor ev­ery day and de­fend Amer­ica,” Ha­ley replied. “And I’ll al­ways do that; I’ll never truly step aside from fight­ing for our coun­try. But I will tell you that I think it’s time.”

MAN­DEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IM­AGES

Heather Nauert joined the State Depart­ment last year after a ca­reer as an an­chor and cor­re­spon­dent at Fox News. She quickly earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a stal­wart de­fender of Pres­i­dent Trump.

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