President Donald Trump is shifting player on his chessboard. Trying to fill a months-long gaping hole left in his foreign policy department after Nikki Haley resigned as ambassador to the United Nations, President Donald Trump said he would be nominating the current United States ambassador to Canada, Kelly Knight Craft, to take on the role. Trump made the announcement on Twitter days after his first choice for the job, Heather Nauert, withdrew from consideration after it was revealed she hired a nanny who did not have a legal work permit.
“Kelly has done an outstanding job representing our Nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Congratulations to Kelly and her entire family!”
The nomination of Craft, who is seen as a rising GOP star in Kentucky, was apparently being pushed hard by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But Trump knows her well, or at least has benefited from her generosity and that of her husband, Joseph W. Craft III, a billionaire Kentucky coal magnate. The pair are big donors to the Republican Party and gave handsomely to both Trump’s presidential campaign and his inaugural committee.
All in all, the couple donated more than $2 million to Trump’s campaign and inauguration.
“The president made an exceptional choice for this critical post,” McConnell said in a statement after the announcement. “Kelly Craft is a strong advocate for American interests and will be a powerful representative of our great nation at the U.N.”
Although the nomination would fill a big gap in the president’s team, it would “leave another in Canada, where the relationship with the United States under Mr. Trump has been buffeted by trade disputes and other issues,” notes the New York Times. Because of these tensions, Craft has kept quite a low profile as the chief U.S. diplomat in Canada. She did make headlines in Canada due to her science-denying views that characterized climate change as a debate between two sides that have valid points. “I believe there are scientists on both sides that are accurate. I think that both sides have their own results, from their studies, and I appreciate and I respect both sides of the science,” Craft told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2017 when she was asked about climate change.
Haley congratulated Craft in a tweet. “Congratulations to Kelly Craft. She’s done a great job representing us as @USAmbCanada and we know she’ll be a strong voice for America at the United Nations. #USstrong.”
The Senate would still have to approve Craft’s nomination. If approved, she will not hold a Cabinet-level position as Trump has reportedly decided to downgrade the post.