Trump Names State Department's Spokesperson Nauert as UN Ambassador
STATE DEPARTMENT —
President Donald Trump has announced he will nominate State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
"She's [Nauert is] going to work with Nikki Haley to replace Nikki at the United Nations. She'll be ambassador to the United Nations," Trump told reporters at the White House early Friday. "She's very talented, very smart, very quick. And I think she's going to be respected by all."
Haley announced in October she would be leaving the job by the end of the year.
Nauert, 48, came to the State Department as spokesperson in April 2017 after a stint at Fox News as an anchor and correspondent. She was an anchor for Fox and Friends, the Fox News Channel morning program that Trump says he watches regularly. She currently serves as the acting under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.
Prior to Fox, Nauert worked at ABC News. Before joining the State Department, Nauert did not have any previous government or diplomatic experience.
If she accepts the position, she could likely face tough questioning during her Senate confirmation hearings about her apparent lack of diplomatic or policymaking experience. But since Republicans will continue to hold a majority in the Senate when the new Congress convenes in January, experts say she is likely to be confirmed.
Nauert is said to be close to both those in the White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and she has traveled extensively with the secretary, including to North Korea.
Aaron David Miller of the Wilson Center says Nauert has a different profile from past U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations.
"I think Heather Nauert is smart. She is a quick study. She will learn the brief. But, I think it [the U.S. ambassador job] is not going to be what it was under Nikki Haley, which was a serious competitor under a vacuum at the NSC [National Security Council] and at the State Department under [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson."
Miller, who advised several secretaries of state under Republican and Democratic administrations, said Haley took advantage of the "empty space" created by media-averse former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to stake out positions on a whole range of foreign policy issues, and that is not likely to be the case with Nauert.
"Heather Nauert is not going to be a big-time player in the deliberations on substance in the administration," he said. "I doubt, on an issue like Syria, unless it pertains to the U.N., that the president is going to call her up and say, 'What do you think?'"
Both Trump and Pompeo have been highly critical of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, with Pompeo noting in a Brussels speech earlier this week that "multilateralism has become viewed as an end unto itself. The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done."
Heritage Foundation fellow Brett Schaefer said Nauert has proven she has the ability to explain and defend U.S. foreign policy, the core requirement for being a U.S. ambassador to the world body.
"She is obviously extremely knowledgeable and well-versed in the foreign policy of this administration and has answered questions and defended it in front of a number of different press inquiries," Schaefer said.
Schaefer notes, though, that Trump already has a team in place that he relies on for help in crafting foreign policy —Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
"Now in terms of formulating policy, I suspect that she is not going to play the role that Nikki Haley did as ambassador to the United Nations," Schaefer said. "Ambassador Haley was a far more high-level figure, particularly early in the administration."