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Heather Nauert Will Replace Haley as UN Ambassador, Trump Says

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 12/7/2018
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Update: U.S. President Donald Trump said he’ll nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to be his next United Nations ambassador, replacing Nikki Haley.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday, Trump said Nauert is “very talented, very smart, very quick and I think she will be respected by all.”

Prior to joining the State Department last year, the 48-year-old Nauert worked several years as an anchor and correspondent for Fox News, including on the “Fox and Friends” show watched by Trump.

While she doesn’t have extensive foreign policy experience, Nauert built a strong rapport with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, accompanying him on trips to Pyongyang and the recent Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires last week.

Shannon Pettypiece

Previous report

President Donald Trump has decided to nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to replace departing United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, according to three people familiar with the decision.

Nauert, 48, is an unorthodox choice for the UN role given that she had little experience in government or foreign policy before joining the administration in April 2017 after several years as an anchor and correspondent for Fox News, including on the “Fox and Friends” show watched by Trump. Haley also didn’t have foreign policy experience when she took the UN posting, but she had twice been elected governor of South Carolina.

Nevertheless, Nauert has gained Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s trust after being excluded from the inner circle of his predecessor, Rex Tillerson. She is also closely aligned with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner.

Nauert has accepted the job and her nomination will be announced as soon as Friday, said a person familiar with the matter.

White House aides believe her key assets include strong communications skills and a fluency with the Trump White House, particularly in understanding the thinking of the president and secretary of state.

The president picked Nauert after considering other potential nominees including former White House aide Dina Powell, ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft and ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell.

Slideshow by photo services

Senate Confirmation

If she wins Senate confirmation, Nauert will face a broad agenda at the UN topped by the need to maintain international sanctions on North Korea. Haley rallied global support for tougher measures in 2017, when Pyongyang ramped up its ballistic missile and weapons testing, but there has been increasing pressure to ease up on the restrictions following Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in June.

She’ll also take up the administration’s efforts to defend Israel at the UN and counter what Haley called the organization’s bias against the Jewish state. In a sign of the difficulties the administration has had, the UN General Assembly on Thursday rejected a resolution condemning Hamas, the Islamist group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

A key question with Nauert will be whether the president keeps the UN envoy job as a Cabinet-level position, or downgrades it to report through Pompeo, as other administrations have sometimes done. Haley argued for a Cabinet-level post after, she said, initially being considered for the secretary of state job.

Bolton-Pompeo

But Haley got the Cabinet-level job when Tillerson -- who was less aggressive in pushing his policies than Pompeo -- was secretary of state. And John Bolton, the national security adviser who had his own stint as UN ambassador under President George W. Bush, is also exercising more influence over foreign policy. That may make it harder for Nauert to carve out her own role as an equal.

At the State Department, Nauert scaled back what had previously been daily news conferences in previous administrations to sometimes just once-a-week affairs. She was widely criticized when she joined Pompeo on an emergency trip to Saudi Arabia in October following the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi -- the somber mission appeared to be forgotten as Nauert posted a tourist-style photograph of herself smiling in Riyadh.

Nauert’s relationship with Tillerson was fraught and she had been close to quitting the job last year. But the White House urged her to stay, saying that Tillerson wouldn’t be around forever, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Haley surprised White House officials in October when she said she would resign by the end of year, citing the need for a break after two terms as governor and two years at the UN. Her trusted relationship with Trump was clear when he hosted an Oval Office farewell for her and she vowed to campaign for him in 2020.

Nauert has indicated a priority for her is the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. She traveled to the region last year.

(Updates to announcement timing in fourth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Derek Wallbank and David Wainer.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net;Nick Wadhams in Washington at nwadhams@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net, Mike Dorning

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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