Trump's leading pick to replace Nikki Haley is Heather Nauert

With Nikki Haley having announced her pending departure from her job as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the question has been who President Trump would select to replace her. Several names have been mentioned including the U.S. Ambassadors to France, Germany, and Canada. Today CNN reports Trump’s leading choice is State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert who came to her current job last year after leaving Fox News:

President Donald Trump has told advisers that Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, is his leading choice to become US ambassador to the United Nations and he could offer the post as soon as this week, two sources familiar with his pick told CNN.

If named Nauert, who met with Trump Monday, would leave her role at the State Department to take over from Nikki Haley, who surprised White House officials last month when she announced her decision to step down at the end of the year…

Previous holders of the UN ambassador position — including current national security adviser John Bolton — came to the role with years of foreign policy experience. Nauert served briefly as Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy from March until October.

Nauert would face what could be a contentious confirmation hearing, with Democrats quizzing her on her qualifications for the post.

The story cautions that nothing is official at this point so maybe this is more of a trial balloon to judge the reaction before an announcement. The fact that Nauert met with Trump Monday and has had her deputies handling her briefing duties since then suggests to me this is happening.

Nauert came to her position at the State Department last April but was reportedly frozen out of key meetings by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who reportedly considered her too loyal to the White House. That changed after Tillerson was replaced by Mike Pompeo. But Business Insider reported in August that reviews of her tenure at State are mixed:

Nauert, 48, is generally well-liked by her State Department colleagues, and widely viewed as a competent spokesperson who has diligently educated herself on the dizzying range of international issues with which the department deals.

“She was serious, she worked hard,” said Wharton, who oversaw Nauert’s work as spokesperson for the few months they overlapped and urged her to stay on when, he said, she considered resigning. “Switching from reading from a teleprompter to having to master an entire book of global events was a very tough thing to do, but I think she did it very well.”…

“She presents herself very well, the camera loves her, she looks great when she briefs, she’s very poised,” the senior department official said of Nauert. “On the substance, it’s been a very tough road. She requires a lot of hand-holding, and getting her up to speed on the issues requires us having to brief her over and over, often on the same issues because she doesn’t absorb the information well.”

And of course, there’s also the fact that she’s a supporter of President Trump:

“She has alienated a lot of the career people here because she’s a ‘Trumper,'” the senior department official said. “There’s an inherent suspicion of us, the career people. We’re viewed oftentimes as the deep state.”

I’m sure her past working for Fox News also doesn’t help her make friends with State Department careerists and will definitely come up in a confirmation hearing. Though the stakes aren’t as high as they were with Judge Kavanaugh, you can probably expect Democrats to be on their worst behavior.