President Donald Trump announced on Friday that State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert is his choice to succeed Nikki Haley as US ambassador to the United Nations, even as the White House moved to downgrade the job from a Cabinet-level position.

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump said Nauert had done a “great job” at the State Department.

“She’s very talented, very smart, very quick, and I think she’s going to be respected by all,” Trump said.

A senior administration official told CNN that Nauert attended Thursday night’s Hanukkah party at the White House and Trump called her in to the Oval Office afterward.
United Nations Secretary General spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told CNN “we look forward to working with her [Nauert] when she assumes her functions.”

A ‘powerful voice’

“The UN Secretary-General had a good working relationship with Nikki Haley and looks forward to her successor,” he said.

Nauert, a former Fox News host who arrived at the State Department in 2017, would be a relatively inexperienced newcomer in one of the most high-profile positions in US diplomacy. Her nomination sets the stage for a potentially tough Senate confirmation hearing, where Democrats will likely grill Nauert on her qualifications for the position.

In an administration rife with internal conflict and deeply distrustful of the UN, Nauert’s nomination would place a less senior person at the international agency than Haley, who reportedly sparred with other administration officials.

Nauert got support from fellow members of the Trump administration, including Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, who said she would bring “a strong and powerful voice for American values of freedom and democracy around the world.”

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