GOP Megadonor Kelly Craft Confirmed As Ambassador To United Nations

President Trump and the Republican Senate rewarded a top Republican donor with a prized diplomatic appointment.

Kelly Craft, whose only qualification in the diplomatic field appears to be a brief stint as U.S. Ambassador to Canada, has been confirmed as the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations:

Kelly Knight Craft, the United States ambassador to Canada, was confirmed on Wednesday to serve as the next ambassador to the United Nations.

More than five months after President Trump announced Ms. Craft as his nominee for the post, the Senate approved the appointment in a 56-to-34 vote largely along party lines, with only five Democrats deciding in her favor.

The post is widely considered the second-most important foreign policy position in a presidential administration, after the secretary of state. But Ms. Craft is stepping into the job at a time of widespread doubts about the Trump White House’s commitment to global institutions like the United Nations.

During Ms. Craft’s confirmation hearing last month, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said she was a “phenomenal selection by the president.” But Democrats took issue with Ms. Craft’s relative lack of diplomatic experience as well as her family’s investments in fossil fuels.

At the hearing, Ms. Craft said she would “assume this position with cleareyed humility,” adding that she had “much to learn about the United Nations.”

She also differentiated herself from Mr. Trump by saying that Saudi Arabia must be held accountable for human rights abuses and that humans have contributed to climate change.

Ms. Craft, 57, became the United States ambassador to Canada in 2017. During her tenure, the relationship between Canada and the United States was strained by bitter trade negotiations, during which Mr. Trump accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “making false statements” and being “very dishonest and weak.”

Although she kept a relatively low profile during her tenure as ambassador to Canada, Ms. Craft was criticized for statements she made about the environment during an October 2017 interviewwith CBC News. Asked whether she believed in climate change, Ms. Craft said that she respected “both sides of the science,” despite the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming.

But during her confirmation hearing, she said that “human behavior has contributed to the changing climate.”

“Let there be no doubt,” she added. “I take this matter seriously, and if confirmed, I will be an advocate for all countries to do their part in addressing climate change.”

Ms. Craft, a Kentucky native, has been known as a fund-raiser for Republican candidates and officeholders. She is close to Mr. McConnell, who is also from Kentucky. Ms. Craft and her husband, Joseph W. Craft III, a billionaire coal magnate, donated more than $2 million to Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and inauguration.

Ms. Craft has some experience at the United Nations, having served as an alternate delegate to the body under President George W. Bush, who appointed her in 2007.

In a minority report from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this month, her critics said she was a poor candidate because she had displayed a “lack of depth on key foreign policy issues” during her hearing, and because she was often “away from the embassy — and indeed, outside the country” while ambassador to Canada.

As I’ve said before, appointing someone such as Craft to a position like this is at the very least out of step with the recent history of this position. Before the President’s selection of Nikki Haley, the position had generally been held by someone with significant prior diplomatic experience or someone with an academic background in the field, such as Madeline Albright or Jeanne Kirkpatrick. While Craft did serve for roughly two years as Ambassador to Canada for roughly two years, and as a deputy to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush Administration, she does not have that kind of experience or background on her resume. Indeed, her appointment as Ambassador to Canada, which is hardly a difficult diplomatic post under normal circumstances appears to have been little more than a sinecure given to a top donor much like other Ambassadorships are given. If nothing else, this appointment seems to be a demonstration of the lack of seriousness with which the Trump Administration views the United Nations.

One thing that Craft’s appointment makes clear is that Trump isn’t interested in having an Ambassador to the U.N. who serves as anything other than a mouthpiece for the Administration. In the past, the person serving in this role has also had a somewhat prominent role as an advisor to the President on foreign policy matters. Indeed, Trump doesn’t appear to want anyone’s advice in this area at all. In that respect, if Trump was looking for a mouthpiece who won’t push back against his positions when they disagree it looks like he found what he was looking for.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, National Security, Politicians, United Nations, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mister Bluster says:

    …confirmed as the new U.S. Ambassador to the United States:..

    Please fix this.

  2. @Mister Bluster:

    Sorry about that. I guess that’s what I get for staying up late and getting up early.

  3. Mister Bluster says:

    …staying up late…

    It’s always worth it for me to watch the Cubs beat up on the Skunks.

  4. SenyorDave says:

    In a minority report from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this month, her critics said she was a poor candidate because she had displayed a “lack of depth on key foreign policy issues” during her hearing, and because she was often “away from the embassy — and indeed, outside the country” while ambassador to Canada.

    IOW she has no qualifications, doesn’t want to learn the job, and doesn’t even want to do the job. The perfect candidate for a position with the Trump WH.

  5. CSK says:

    At this point, does anyone even marginally competent want to work for Trump?

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Nobody with an ounce of self respect.

  7. Gustopher says:

    Democrats voting for her:
    Sinema (AZ)
    Murphy (CT)
    Hassan (NH)
    Shaheen (NH)
    Manchin (WV)

    Now, I understand Manchin likes to troll the libs, and Sinema needs to shore up her right, and New Hampshire has too much fluoride in the water, but what is going on with Chris Murphy?

    Kelly Craft is wildly unqualified. She shouldn’t have been confirmed. I can understand that you want to defer to the president to appoint any qualified person, but she’s not a qualified person.

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  8. Mister Bluster says:

    I wonder if she is in love with the murderous Kim as deeply as Pud is…

    Seoul (AFP) – North Korea carried out its third missile test in eight days Friday, according to the South’s military, but US President Donald Trump said he had “no problem” with the spate of launches by Pyongyang.
    The nuclear-armed North is barred from ballistic missile tests under UN resolutions and its actions have drawn condemnation from European members of the Security Council but a comparatively sanguine response from Trump, who has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un three times, generating global headlines on each occasion.
    “I have no problem, we’ll see what happens but short range (missiles) are very standard,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a rally in Ohio.

    ménage à trump

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  9. Ken_L says:

    To the cruel Trump critics who call him a nepotist, let the record show he has now declined to appoint Ivanka to either the World Bank or the UN.

    I think we can call that canard conclusively rebutted.

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  10. Jen says:

    @Gustopher: My guess is that both of the NH votes had something to do with legislation, probably the opioid provision in the budget deal. Sen. Shaheen is also up for reelection this year (and Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is thinking of running against her).

    A good portion of our state is on private wells, so not that much fluoride in the water… 😀