Politics

Three Takeaways as Trump Picks Former Fox Anchor for UN Envoy Post

President makes clear he’s running foreign policy, wants salesperson in New York

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (center) speaks with staff, including spokeswoman Heather Nauert, President Trump's pick for UN ambassador, during a G-20 summit last week in Argentina. (State Department photo by Ron Przysucha / Public Domain via Flickr)

By selecting State Department spokeswoman and former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert as his next UN ambassador, President Donald Trump has further consolidated his control of America’s foreign policy.

“Heather Nauert will be nominated for the ambassador to the United Nations,” Trump told reporters on his way to Marine One on Friday.

Other than her 20-month run as the top spokesperson at Foggy Bottom, Nauert has no diplomatic experience. She spent her entire career before going to State at ABC News and Fox. The latter is Trump’s favorite cable news network, which helped her land the State Department job.

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Trump frequently tweets quotes from Fox News personalities and programs, knowing how popular the conservative-leaning network. The president both denies watching hours of Fox and other networks each day and says publicly that he “watches all the shows.” Here are three takeaways from Nauert’s nomination.

Diplomat-in-chief

Conservative lawmakers railed against former President Barack Obama for, as they put it, running foreign policy and national security out of the Oval Office. Then-Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and others like Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — now a close Trump ally — hammered Obama for giving a deputy national security adviser job to Ben Rhodes despite his lack of previous experience in those areas.

Fast forward two years and there are no such howls from Republicans as Trump drives foreign policy from the White House and his Twitter account, leaving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — and likely, soon Nauert — to try to make his public declarations into policy.

By not selecting a veteran foreign policy or national security hand who might push back on his decisions or try to push him toward another option, Trump is making clear he is the diplomat-in-chief.

Sizzle > substance

Democratic senators likely will resist her nomination, but lack the votes to block it. Nauert won’t be going to New York to shape America’s foreign policy.

“Our foreign policy is a mess and the president was laughed at through his last speech to the UN,” Senate Foreign Relations member Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., told CNN. “I’m not sure anyone would advise him that the way to solve all his problems is to put a “Fox & Friends” anchor as our top ambassador to the United Nations.

“Heather Nauert has been at the State Department so it’s not as if she has no experience. But she has no experience as a diplomat, she has no meaningful experience in government. She is clearly not qualified for this job. But these days it seems the most important qualification is that you show up on Donald Trump’s TV screen.”

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GOP consultant Rick Wilson tweeted Friday morning that he “really didn't expect we'd have UN Ambassador Nauert until President Hannity, in consultation with Vice President Doocey and Secretary of State Ingraham met to discuss their foreign policy goals.” He was sarcastically suggesting Fox News personalities drove Trump to select her.

She’s a communicator by trade and training — she’s being sent to sell the “America first” president’s unique foreign policy approach to the rest of the world. And that’s the point: Trump values how his messages and policy decisions are explained by his subordinates, and has said his instincts and intellect are better than most. Trump doesn’t want an UN ambassador to advise him — he wants a salesperson in New York.

Not a threat

If confirmed by the Senate, the former Fox News anchor would replace Nikki Haley. The former South Carolina GOP governor used her Oval Office announcement — sitting alongside POTUS to assure reporters she is not stepping aside to prepare a 2020 presidential bid.

“I don’t think Haley is thinking about running in 2020. She needs to go make some money to pay down some debts,” one GOP strategist recently told Roll Call. “But President Trump, as much as he appeared to value her work and counsel, clearly views her as a threat.”

Nauert is on exactly zero short or long lists of Republicans who might challenge Trump with a 2020 primary bid. Translation: The UN job will give her lots of media exposure, but when the president sees her face on “all the shows,” he won’t feel threatened.

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