President Trump announced Friday that he was nominating Kelly Knight Craft, a Republican donor and the U.S. ambassador to Canada, to serve as his next ambassador to the United Nations.
If confirmed by the Senate, Craft would succeed Nikki Haley, who abruptly resigned the U.N. post in October. The president’s first choice, former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, withdrew from consideration last weekend.
Trump announced his choice in a tweet. Craft, he wrote, “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. Congratulations to Kelly and her entire family!”
Craft, who helped lead the U.S. team through contentious negotiations with Canada for a new trade agreement, appeared to be a consensus choice within the administration. She had backing from top officials including Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, who met with Craft and the president Friday before Trump tweeted the news.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly urged the president to nominate Craft, who hails from his native Kentucky. Along with her husband, billionaire coal magnate Joe Craft of Alliance Resource Partners, she has donated to Republicans for years.
Joe Craft donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee and $265,000 to a political action committee backing the president’s 2016 campaign.
Kelly Craft’s good working relationships with Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were also viewed as a plus within the administration. She is expected to be confirmed easily by the Senate, which unanimously approved her nomination as ambassador to Canada in August 2017.
According to one White House official, a quick confirmation was a priority for the administration. Adding to the sense of urgency are the number of pressing foreign policy matters, including on Venezuela, North Korea and Afghanistan, where the U.N. Security Council is poised to play a role.
Craft, who was chosen from a short list that also included former Michigan Senate candidate John James, has some experience at the U.N. Former President George W. Bush named her to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations in 2007.
She also has a long history with McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, having served as a Republican Party fundraising chairwoman for several presidential campaigns in Kentucky.