Early look: Who will replace Nikki Haley as UN ambassador?

· October 10, 2018  
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There is already a lot of speculation about who will replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, following her announcement Tuesday that she is resigning from her post effective at the end of the year.

Aboard Air Force One Tuesday, President Trump revealed that he is looking at five candidates who he hopes will be able to fill Haley’s shoes. However, the president revealed only one of the names on his list: former deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.

Here’s a look at a few possible candidates for the U.N. ambassador gig:

Dina Powell

Powell, who served a brief stint in the National Security Council as deputy to former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, is reportedly the front-runner to replace Haley.

“Senior people in the White House have the impression that Dina Powell, former top official in the Bush and Trump administrations, can have the UN ambassador job if she wants it,” reports Jonathan Swan of Axios.

Politico also reports that Powell tops the list.

She has developed a reputation as a professional and appears to be in the good graces of President Trump, but there are several issues that the president’s supporters may have with Powell. 

She left her NSC job almost immediately after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced that the U.S. would be moving its embassy in Israel there. It’s still unknown if the Jerusalem decision was the reason for her departure or whether the timing was merely a coincidence. 

But she has in the past involved herself in controversial issues concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict. For years, Powell attended the annual gala of the American Task Force of Palestine, an anti-Israel outfit that was founded by Palestinian radical Rashid Khalidi.

Additionally, Powell has deep ties to the Washington swamp. She served as a gatekeeper to the Bush 43 White House and was a pupil of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

It remains to be seen if Powell, currently a Goldman Sachs executie, would be willing to take unpopular positions on internationalist issues like climate change, immigration, and the Iran nuclear deal. Would Powell be willing to stick up for the president — and for American sovereignty — in a forum filled with ruthless totalitarians and America’s adversaries?

Jared Kushner

In her remarks announcing her resignation, Ambassador Haley notably praised Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump for their work in the Trump administration. The latter has ruled herself out of the mix for the U.N. ambassador slot.

“I can’t say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka,” Haley said in her meeting with the president Tuesday. “Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands.”

“What I’ve done working with him on the Middle East peace plan … it is so unbelievably well-done,” she added.

The president’s son-in-law has indeed done a remarkable job encouraging reforms and shoring up alliances with crucial Middle East partners. He’s also credited with helping to restore the U.S.-Israel alliance after the tumultuous Obama years.

Yet it remains to be seen whether Kushner even wants the job or if the soft-spoken presidential adviser is willing and able to deliver the rhetorical blows that are sometimes necessary in the U.N. ambassador role. 

Richard Grenell

Grenell is a favorite among the president’s supporters. He is perhaps the most effective foreign ambassador for the U.S., having received recognition for his incredible work on Iran sanctions. He has the U.N. experience and foreign policy bona fides to be effective on day one and make an immediate impact. And he’s just as much a firebrand as Haley. However, President Trump appears to have — at least for now — ruled him out of the running, explaining that he did not want to impact his success as ambassador to Germany.

Who else?

Other names that are being floated include Heather Nauert, who has been a Trump administration star as a State Department spokesperson and now under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

Jon Huntsman, the ambassador to Russia, who is reportedly in the running as well. Outgoing Senator Bob Corker has also expressed interest in the job.

Replacing Nikki Haley

Whoever the president nominates for the U.N. ambassador role has his or her work cut out. It will be almost impossible for this individual to live up to Nikki Haley’s U.N. legacy. Haley was a unique dual threat in that she was the point person for several major policy victories while also making it known that she would unapologetically stand up for American values and interests at the U.N.


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Author: Jordan Schachtel

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review and editor of The Dossier for CRTV. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.