US President Donald Trump’s choice for ambassador to the United Nations, Heather Nauert, has withdrawn from consideration for the job for family reasons, according to the State Department.
Nauert was State Department spokeswoman when Trump chose her for the UN position; prior to that, she had been a host on the conservative-leaning Fox News Channel. She had been criticised by Democrats for her lack of diplomatic experience.
“The past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration,” Nauert said in a State Department statement on Saturday.
The statement did not specify the hardship on her family but the Washington Post said Nauert’s husband and children had remained in New York while she was working in Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News, quoting anonymous sources, said Nauert’s nomination began to falter after a White House background check discovered that Nauert employed a nanny who was legally in the United States but not authorised to work.
Nauert, 49, suggested in the statement that she was leaving government entirely, saying: “Serving in the administration for the past two years has been one of the highest honors of my life.”
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, praised Nauert in a statement, saying that he had “great respect” for her “personal” decision to withdraw.
Trump had announced on December 7 he would nominate Nauert for the UN position to replace Nikki Haley, who resigned at the end of 2018. Haley was a former South Carolina governor who also had little experience in world affairs before taking the ambassador position.
Calling Nauert “very talented, very smart, very quick”, Trump said he thought she would be “respected by all”.
In the wake of November elections that strengthened Republican control of the Senate, her confirmation appeared likely, if not easy.
Yet Trump never put Nauert’s name forward with the Senate and no confirmation hearing was scheduled.
The State Department in its statement that Trump would announce a nominee for the UN position “soon”.
Before coming to the State Department, Nauert was a breaking news anchor on Trump’s favourite television show, Fox & Friends. She joined the department as a spokeswoman in April 2017, three months into the Trump administration.
She was named acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs in early 2018.
The role of US ambassador to the UN is a highly visible international position.
While Nauert had little diplomatic experience, other nations with veto power on the UN Security Council are represented by ambassadors with decades of foreign policy work.
“She’s clearly not qualified for this job but these days it seems that the most important qualification is that you show up on Donald Trump’s TV screen,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said of Nauert on CNN in December.