Biden picks retired pilot 'Sully,' Morgan Stanley's Nides as envoys

Justin Sink and Nancy Cook, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced a slate of ambassador nominations on Tuesday that included Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman Thomas Nides as the top diplomat to Israel and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as envoy to Mexico.

Biden is also nominating C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger — the retired pilot who safely landed a US Airways plane in the Hudson River — as an ambassador to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the White House said Tuesday.

With the nine nominations, Biden has now announced his choices for 18 ambassadorial nominations, all of which must be confirmed by the Senate. Thirteen of the selections are career diplomats, including his picks of Julie Chung to Sri Lanka, Sharon Cromer to Gambia, Troy Fitrell to Guinea and Marc Ostfield to Paraguay.

Julianne Smith, who served as Biden’s acting national security adviser when he was vice president, will be tapped as the top U.S. diplomat to NATO. Biden met Monday with leaders from the alliance in Brussels before heading to Geneva for a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

Biden also rewarded some top Democratic donors. Nides has long been one of Wall Street’s biggest supporters of Democrats, bundling campaign contributions for Biden during the 2020 presidental election. And Biden’s pick for ambassador to Costa Rica is Cynthia Telles, a UCLA professor and board member of Kaiser Permanente who hosted a May 2019 fundraiser for his campaign.

Biden has yet to nominate ambassadors for China and India, posts where high-profile Democrats are being considered. For China, Biden has been considering former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns. For India, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is under consideration.


Biden’s nominations could face a lengthy confirmation process in the U.S. Senate, with Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, saying he plans to hold up nominations to protest the Biden administration’s decision to suspend sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in Germany.

Some Democrats have also criticized Biden for not moving more quickly to name ambassadors, though a White House official said that with the latest slate, Biden has outpaced former President Donald Trump.


(Bloomberg's Nick Wadhams contributed to this report.)

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