Trump Is Expected to Name State Department Spokeswoman to UN Post
Posted December 6, 2018 11:39 p.m. EST
Updated December 6, 2018 11:40 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump plans to nominate Heather Nauert, the chief State Department spokeswoman, to become his next ambassador to the United Nations as he moves to reshape his team for the final two years of his term, two people familiar with the choice said on Thursday.
Nauert, a former Fox News anchor who has served as the public face of the State Department since last year, would replace Nikki Haley, who is stepping down as ambassador at the end of the year. If confirmed, Nauert would be one of the most prominent promoters of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.
Nauert had been the favorite after Haley announced she would leave the job, but after The Wall Street Journal reported that she was expected to be given the role, Trump grew muted about the choice, and administration officials said she had become less interested in the post.
The president floated other names to associates as possible nominees, including Kelly Craft, the ambassador to Canada; Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany; and John James, a Republican who lost a Senate race last month in Michigan. At one point, Trump even signaled to James that the job was likely to go to him, according to one person familiar with the situation.
But Trump is famous for misdirection when it comes to his appointees or testing out names of alternatives before finally circling back to earlier choices. In this case, he returned to Nauert, who will now face a Senate confirmation process. Her selection was earlier reported by Bloomberg as well as other news outlets on Thursday night.
Nauert brings relatively little experience in foreign policy to the post, having been a television personality until her appointment at the State Department last year. Past ambassadors to the United Nations have either been diplomats and international scholars or prominent politicians such as senators, House members, a Supreme Court justice or, in Haley’s case, a governor.
But Trump values television skills and Nauert has impressed him with her communication ability. Her selection suggests he wants someone at the United Nations who will not necessarily play a major role in setting policy but will instead take on a high-profile role in selling it to the world.
Nauert is the latest Fox News personality to be recruited or elevated by Trump, who watches the network several hours a day. He named John R. Bolton, a former U.N. ambassador who was a Fox contributor, as his national security adviser and Bill Shine, a former Fox co-president, as his deputy White House chief of staff in charge of communications. Mercedes Schlapp, a former Fox contributor, serves as White House director of strategic communications.
The pipeline works the other way, too. Hope Hicks, who served as White House communications director until early this year, has been tapped to become chief communications officer for Fox. And other networks have been talent sources, as well. Larry Kudlow moved from CNBC to become the president’s national economic adviser.
A health insurance consultant with degrees from Mount Vernon College in Washington and Columbia University’s journalism school, Nauert started in journalism in 1996 and joined Fox News two years later before moving to other outlets, including ABC News. She returned to Fox in 2007 and eventually became an anchor on “Fox & Friends,” the president’s favorite show. In 2015, she hosted an event for Algemeiner, a Jewish news outlet, at which Trump was given an award for his support of Israel.
Nauert was named State Department spokeswoman in April 2017 and then, after Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson was fired, was promoted to acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs. Her State Department biography notes her journalism experience covering “breaking news stories in the United States and abroad” and says that she was previously a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.