WASHINGTON: Former Fox News anchor and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Saturday that she has withdrawn from consideration to be the next US ambassador to the United Nations.
“The past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw,” Nauert said in a statement. The abrupt statement, issued in the evening of a holiday weekend, came after weeks of often mocking criticism of the nomination of Nauert, who had no foreign policy experience until two years ago when she was named State Department spokeswoman.
Opponents questioned whether Nauert, despite her poise at the podium, had the gravitas and skill to go head-to-head on complex international issues with seasoned diplomats from adversaries such as Russia. President Donald Trump, an avid viewer of conservative-leaning Fox News where Nauert was once an anchor on the morning show “Fox and Friends,” told reporters in December that he wanted her to be UN ambassador.
Her nomination, however, was never formally submitted to the Senate and she has vanished for over two months as she prepared for a confirmation hearing – and, eventually, the top diplomatic job. With Trump’s Republican Party in control of the Senate, her nomination had not seemed to be in serious risk, barring any disclosure that had not been made public.
State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said that Trump would put forward a new name “soon.” The UN post has been vacant since the start of the year after Nikki Haley, a former governor seen as a rising star in Republican politics, decided to leave after two years in the position. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Nauert in a statement, saying that he had “great respect” for her “personal” decision to withdraw.
Trump row with Democrats takes harsh turn
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump doubled down Friday on his claim of an “attempted coup” against him as his battle with Democratic foes entered a vicious new phase of personal insults and strong-arm tactics.
Hovering over it all: the looming question of whether or not the Republican leader will be impeached — “the big I-word,” as Trump put it recently.
The president said he has given his attorney general wide latitude to declassify intelligence information as he probes the origins of the government’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign ties to Russia.
“They will be able to see … how the hoax or witch hunt started and why it started,” he told reporters as he departed on a trip to Japan. “It was an attempted coup or an attempted takedown of the president of the United States.”
“There’s word and rumor that the FBI and others were involved, CIA were involved with the UK, having to do with the Russian hoax,” he said, adding that he might talk to the outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May about it.
“We’re exposing everything,” he added.
Trump’s bid to turn the tables on his political opponents comes amid an escalating constitutional clash of powers with the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
House Democratic leaders have launched numerous probes aimed at getting evidence gathered during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign — only to be stonewalled by the White House.
That has raised calls by Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump.
In an odd turn, however, it has been House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump’s congressional nemesis, who has pumped the brakes on impeachment — even as she accuses the president of a potentially impeachable cover-up.
The president, for his part, is daring his opponents to initiate proceedings against him — confident that impeachment by the House would most certainly be blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“‘If they try to Impeach President Trump, who has done nothing wrong (No Collusion), they will end up getting him re-elected,'” the president wrote Friday, approvingly retweeting a warning to Democrats by a fellow Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham.
Iran ‘Threat’: Trump bypasses Congress to sell arms!
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday bypassed Congress to sell $8.1 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies, citing a threat from Iran, infuriating lawmakers who fear the weapons could kill civilians in Yemen.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration would circumvent the required review by Congress to approve 22 arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, saying that the freeze on sales by Congress could affect the Arab allies’ operational abilities.
The weapons, which include munitions and aircraft support maintenance, are meant “to deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defense capacity,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The sale was announced earlier Friday by Senator Robert Menendez, who had used his powers to block shipments of tens of thousands of precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, fearing they would contribute to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where the US allies are mounting an offensive.
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia,” Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.
He said that the administration failed to meet the legal definition of an emergency as he vowed to work with lawmakers to counter the decision.
“The lives of millions of people depend on it,” Menendez said.
Another senior Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, said that the United States needed to rein in rather than give more weapons to Saudi Arabia.
“The Saudi-led war in Yemen is not an emergency, it is a crime against humanity,” she said in a statement.
The sales come after Trump vetoed an attempt by Congress to stop US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, where tens of thousands have died and millions are at risk of starvation in what the United Nations calls the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.
Pompeo has resolutely defended the US support for the Saudis, noting that the Huthi rebels who control much of Yemen are allied with US adversary Iran and saying that Huthi rocket attacks into Saudi Arabia could kill Americans taking commercial flights.
Carolyn Miles, president of relief group Save the Children, said that while all sides are at fault, “arms sales to the Saudi/Emirati coalition will increase the suffering of starving children in Yemen.”
$8.1b arms sales to ‘deter Iranian aggression’
WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that the US administration was bypassing Congress to sell $8.1 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan to “deter Iranian aggression.”
“These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement, hours after a senator announced the sale and sharply criticized it.