Trump Picks Nauert for UN Envoy But Not for Seat in His Cabinet - EcoFinBiz Blog

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Trump Picks Nauert for UN Envoy But Not for Seat in His Cabinet

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(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said he’ll nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to be his next United Nations ambassador but, a White House official said, the post will be downgraded from its current cabinet-level status.

The loss of the cabinet seat suggests Nauert would have less clout than her predecessor, Nikki Haley, who departs at the end of this year. Haley had successfully argued for a cabinet-level post and wielded broad influence, carving out her own authority separate from the secretary of state.

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.”

While Nauert struggled under former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who kept her blocked out of his inner circle, the former Fox News anchor built a rapport with current Secretary Michael Pompeo, who came to trust her as a reliable voice and advocate for Trump’s agenda.

White House aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believe Nauert’s 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. Trump was also impressed with her performance at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina last week, according to two people familiar with the matter.

“Nauert is a very good public operator, and should do a professional job presenting U.S. policy at the UN,” Richard Gowan, a senior fellow at the United Nations University’s Center for Policy Research, said in an email. “It is less clear that she has the experience to hammer out hard deals with China and Russia over problems like Iran and North Korea.”

Nauert won’t face an easy confirmation given her lack of experience and the likelihood that she’ll be asked to answer for the Trump administration’s scorn for international bodies, including the UN. In a speech in Brussels this week, Pompeo made his doubts about the organization clear, asking, “Does it continue to serve its mission faithfully?”

Lowering Expectations

Among its flaws, he cited peacekeeping missions that “drag on for decades,” climate treaties that he said serve only to redistribute wealth and what he called its anti-Israel bias.

“Pompeo’s Brussels speech trashing the UN this week lowered our expectations for U.S. policy at the UN, whoever is ambassador,” Gowan said. “It looks probable that the U.S. will aim to marginalize the UN for the rest of Trump’s term, in contrast to the Haley era.”

At least one UN ambassador said he hopes that won’t be the case.

France’s UN envoy, Francois Delattre, said that he’d like Nauert to be “a bridge between Washington and the UN at a time when we more than ever need an America that is engaged with the UN in world affairs and committed to our shared values, beginning with human rights.”

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.

The president picked Nauert after considering other potential nominees including former White House aide Dina Powell, ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft, former U.S. Senate candidate John James of Michigan and ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell -- who was a favorite of National Security Adviser John Bolton.

North Korea

If Nauert wins Senate confirmation, she 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 from other countries to ease up on the restrictions since Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in June.

Hamas Resolution

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 U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Hamas, the Islamist group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

“Ms. Nauert has stood by the State of Israel in her previous positions, and I have no doubt that the cooperation between our two countries will continue to strengthen as ambassador to the UN,” Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, said in New York.

At the State Department, Nauert scaled back what had previously been daily news conferences in previous administrations, sometimes making them just once-a-week events. 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 has indicated a priority for her is the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. She traveled to the region last year, eventually joining Tillerson when he visited the country’s capital for the day. But she was shut out from his entourage, and didn’t take part in any of his meetings.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nick Wadhams in Washington at nwadhams@bloomberg.net;Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net;Shannon Pettypiece in Washington at spettypiece@bloomberg.net;David Wainer in New York at dwainer3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net, ;Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Justin Blum

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