WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s pick for United Nations ambassador, Heather Nauert, could face a tough Senate confirmation process – with her thin resume and the president’s unorthodox foreign policy thrust into the congressional spotlight at a turbulent moment in America’s global standing.
Trump announced Nauert’s nomination in remarks to reporters before leaving for an event in Missouri Friday.
“She’s very talented, very smart, very quick, and I think she’s going to be respected by all,” Trump said of Nauert, a former Fox News anchor and current State Department spokeswoman.
Nauert has served as the State Department’s chief spokeswoman since April 2017, winning Trump over with her polished, camera-ready defense of his “America First” approach to foreign policy. She has also earned the trust of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, traveling the globe with the former Kansas congressman and CIA director over the last seven months.
But if confirmed, Nauert would be one of the most inexperienced U.N. ambassadors in history at a time of extreme flux in international relations. Since taking office, Trump has picked major foreign policy fights with key U.S. allies, including Canada and France, while praising authoritarian regimes in Russia, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
The U.N. job involves representing the United States at the U.N. Security Council and in private diplomatic negotiations with other world leaders. Nauert would replace Nikki Haley, Trump’s current ambassador to the U.N. and the former governor of South Carolina. Previous U.N. ambassadors include Adlai Stevenson, George H.W. Bush and Madeline Albright.
Critics say that while Nauert is good at delivering Trump’s talking points, she does not have the kind of in-depth policy knowledge or political background needed for the U.N. job.
“The United Nations is the big leagues of diplomacy,” said Brett Bruen, who served as director of global engagement in the Obama administration. “This is the most egregious example of Trump filling critical national security jobs by using a superficial casting criteria more appropriate for reality shows than the dangerous realities of today’s world.”
David Bosco, a professor of international relations at Indiana University, said Nauert would definitely be one of the least experienced for the position.
“Her only real foreign policy is this stint at the State Department in a kind of spokesperson role,” he noted. “Nor does she have what Haley had, which was significant high-level governing experience. So as I look at who we have had in this position over the decades, I think Nauert would be one of the least prepared for this position.”
That doesn’t mean she won’t be effective, Bosco added, saying her success will depend on her ability to connect with other world leaders and to demonstrate that she has the confidence of the president and his inner circle.
Bosco said her lack of experience could be both a plus and minus as she prepares for the Senate confirmation process.
“There’s not a lot of a record to go over,” he said. “But I would expect some tough questions from senators about her qualifications and trying to probe how well prepared she is for this.”
Prior to joining the State Department, Nauert, a 48-year-old native of Illinois, was a reporter for “Fox & Friends” and served in several other positions at the cable network channel.
As a journalist, Nauert covered the 9/11 terror attacks, the war in Iraq and four presidential elections. Before joining Fox News, Nauert served as a correspondent for ABC News, where she covered breaking news in the U.S. and abroad.
Nauert earned her undergraduate degree from Mount Vernon College in Washington and a master’s from Columbia University’s School of Journalism.
Haley announced in early October her plans to resign, a decision that seemed to surprise White House officials. Haley, a former South Carolina governor who became one of the most prominent women in Trump’s Cabinet, came to the job with almost no foreign policy experience but earned high marks from Republicans as a forceful messenger for American priorities on the global stage.
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