President Donald Trump has settled on State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to replace departing United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Nauert, 48, is an unusual 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 lacked foreign policy experience when she took the UN posting, but she had twice been elected governor of South Carolina.
Nevertheless, Nauert’s candidacy had the strong support of Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who came to trust her as a reliable voice and advocate for Trump’s agenda. It was a stark turnaround from the era of Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson, who shut her out from his inner circle. She had threatened to quit several times under Tillerson but, thanks partly to her alliance with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner, she ended up outlasting her former boss.
“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 has accepted the job and her nomination will be announced as soon as Friday, said a person familiar with the matter. Nauert didn’t answer repeated calls and emails seeking comment.
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.