State Department Spox to Succeed Nikki Haley as U.N. Ambassador

Heather Nauert (U.S. Department of State)

President Trump announced Friday that State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert will succeed Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

“She’s very talented, very smart, very quick, and I think she’s going to be respected by all,” Trump said of Nauert while speaking to reporters outside of the White House.

Nauert, a former Fox News host who joined the State Department in 2017, is expected to face tough questions during her confirmation hearing about her relative lack of qualifications for such a high-profile diplomatic post. Arriving with limited foreign-policy experience, Nauert will be tasked with maintaining international support for sanctions on North Korea and defending the administration from the ongoing backlash against its aggressive posturing on trade and environmental issues.

Haley, a two-term governor of South Carolina who similarly lacked foreign-policy experience when she was tapped by Trump, announced her retirement in early October.

Under former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, Nauert was consigned to a low-visibility role due to her perceived status as a White House loyalist who maintained a close personal relationship with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. It was not until Tillerson’s departure in March that Nauert was given more substantial responsibility and direct access to the president.

“While Nikki Haley didn’t bring foreign-policy experience, she ran a state,” Brett Bruen, a former State Department official, told the Washington Post. “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.”

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