Written by Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman
President Donald Trump’s pick to serve as ambassador to the United Nations withdrew from consideration on Saturday, citing family concerns.
His intended nominee, Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman at the State Department since 2017, said in a statement that “the past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration.”
Nauert dropped from the running because she had a nanny who was in the United States legally but did not have the proper work visa, according to people familiar with the process.
Nauert, a former “Fox & Friends” host, was selected by Trump in December to succeed Nikki R. Haley, and she initially declined when approached about the position. But Trump was adamant that she accept when he could find no one else to take the post, according to people involved in the process.
One person familiar with the situation said Kelly Knight Craft, the ambassador to Canada, was being discussed as a possibility for the role. Others said that another name being floated was Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany, who recently spent time with a U.S. delegation that included Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.
Although Trump had announced Nauert as his nominee for the ambassadorship, she had not been formally nominated. Her nomination was proceeding without a completed background check, according to two administration officials, and the State Department had not submitted the necessary paperwork to the Senate, raising questions about the delay among Republican Senate staff aides.
Some members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had expressed reservations in private about her candidacy, said Brett Bruen, a former diplomat and global engagement official in the Obama administration. The members had questions about whether she had the experience and expertise to deal with counterparts from other countries, especially ambassadors from Russia and China, the two main rivals of the United States on the U.N. Security Council.
“I had heard from multiple people on the Hill that her nomination was not going well,” Bruen said. “Heather’s background was not commensurate with the experience necessary for one of our most difficult diplomatic assignments.”
In a separate statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Nauert’s decision as personal. “I wish Heather nothing but the best in all of her future endeavors and know that she will continue to be a great representative of this nation in whatever role she finds herself,” he said.