WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has decided to nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to replace departing United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, according to three people familiar with the decision.
Nauert, 48, is an unorthodox choice for the U.N. 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 didn't have foreign policy experience when she took the U.N. posting, but she had twice been elected governor of South Carolina.
Nevertheless, Nauert has gained Secretary of State Michael Pompeo's trust after being excluded from the inner circle of his predecessor, Rex Tillerson. She is also closely aligned with Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner.
The president was said to have picked Nauert after considering other potential nominees including former White House aide Dina Powell, Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft and Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell.
If she wins Senate confirmation, Nauert will face a broad agenda at the U.N. 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 test, but there has been increasing pressure to ease up on the restrictions following Trump's meeting with Kim Jong Un in June.
She'll also take up the administration's efforts to defend Israel at the U.N. and counter what Haley called the organization's bias against the Jewish state. In a sign of the difficulties the administration has had, the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday rejected a resolution condemning Hamas, the Islamist group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
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A key question with Nauert will be whether the president keeps the U.N. envoy job as a Cabinet-level position, or downgrades it to report through Pompeo, as other administrations have sometimes done. Haley argued for a Cabinet-level post after, she said, initially being considered for the secretary of state job.
Haley surprised White House officials in October when she said she would resign by the end of year, citing the need for a break after two terms as governor and two years at the U.N. Her trusted relationship with Trump was clear when he hosted an Oval Office farewell for her and she vowed to campaign for him in 2020.
(With assistance from Derek Wallbank.)
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