President Donald Trump as announced his nominations for two top Cabinet-level positions, tapping former Justice Department head William Barr for U.S. Attorney General, and acting-Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Heather Nauert to the post of U.N. Ambassador. The announcement comes as shakeups have been continuing in the White House following the midterm elections of last month.
Barr served as the 77th Attorney General under the late former President George H. W. Bush from 1991 to 1993. The Reagan-era policy staffer was known as a strong defender of presidential power and aggressive actions on terrorism and drug-trafficking. Regardless, during his 1991 confirmation hearing he received a good reception from both Republicans and Democrats.
In becoming the 85th attorney general, he will be the first to repeat the position since its inception in 1789. He will replace acting-Attorney General Matt Whitaker who was thrust into the position following his tenure as chief of staff to the ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions after a two-year tumultuous relationship with President Trump. Since 1973, there have been 10 acting attorneys general.
Presumably, questions will arise in the upcoming Senate confirmation hearing Barr will have about his role as head of the Justice Department and how he will handle the long-awaited end to White Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election.
Nauert, who has had a meteoric rise from journalist to powerful diplomat, will also have a tough Senate confirmation hearing following the way Democrats treated another Trump nominee for an influential post – Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Nevertheless, Nauert has held positions at several news organizations during her two decades as a journalist, most notably on Fox News. She has had a much shorter government career that began in April 2017 when she was hired as a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.
Following the dismissal of Steve Goldstein on March 13, 2018 after the firing of then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Nauert was named acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Nauert is currently the fourth ranking position in the State Department, tasked with overseeing public diplomacy to advance U.S. interests and security in over 250 embassies, outposts, and locations of American interest.
In November, President Trump made his short list of pick for the top U.S. spot at the United Nations in New York City, adding that she was under “serious consideration.”
“She’s excellent,” Trump said. “She’s been with us a long time. She’s been a supporter for a long time. And she’s really excellent.”
Current U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced that she would step down from her diplomatic post at the end of 2018. Although the former South Carolina governor is speculated to have ambitions to hold higher office, Haley said following her announcement at the White House, “No I’m not running in 2020.”
“Look at two years, look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy. Now the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do. They know that if we’re going to do something, we follow it through, and the President proved that,” Haley said in the Oval Office aside Trump.
It has been rumored that Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers could replace the former four-star Marine General as senior aide to President Trump, with some within the administration saying it is a “done deal.” Ayers was one of the architects of Vice President Pence’s tour of vulnerable Republican districts before the midterm elections, including appearances in Virginia.