United States President Donald Trump’s choice for ambassador to the United Nations, Ms Heather Nauert, has withdrawn from consideration for the job for family reasons, the State Department said on Saturday (Feb 16).
Ms Nauert was State Department spokesman when Mr Trump chose her for the UN position after working as a host for the conservative-leaning Fox News Channel. She had been criticised by Democrats for her lack of diplomatic experience.
“The past two months have been gruelling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration,” Ms Nauert said in a State Department statement.
The statement did not specify the hardship on her family but the Washington Post said Ms Nauert’s husband and children had remained in New York while she was working in Washington.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters that Ms Nauert withdrew from consideration because she had a nanny who was in the United States legally but did not have the proper work visa. Ms Nauert was not immediately available for comment.
The White House had no information on who might be the next in line for the UN job.
Mr Trump announced on Dec 7 he would nominate Ms Nauert for the UN position to replace Ms Nikki Haley, who resigned at the end of 2018. Ms Haley was a former South Carolina governor who also had little experience in world affairs before taking the ambassador position.
The White House had not yet formally submitted Ms Nauert’s nomination to the Senate.
Ms Nauert joined the State Department as spokesman 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 Ms Nauert has 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 Ms Nauert on CNN in December.
US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, previously the longest serving US spokesman at the UN, is among the possible replacements for Ms Nauert as nominee, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Mr Grenell has been a controversial figure in Germany. In June 2018, he said in an interview with right-wing news outlet Breitbart News: “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe.”
Some German lawmakers criticised him in response, according to USA Today.