President Donald Trump has mentioned former Michigan GOP Senate candidate John James as a leading contender for the role of US ambassador to the United Nations, a source close to White House tells CNN.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced Saturday she had withdrawn from consideration as UN ambassador, keeping the position open.
The State Department said Saturday that Trump will make an announcement about a new nominee soon.
Trump, who sounded out the idea of selecting James with trusted advisers around Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, is “very impressed by him … and sees him as a rising star,” the source said. James lost the Senate bid in November to Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
James, a veteran of the Iraq War, had previously interviewed with Trump for a role in the administration and was seen as a top prospect for the UN job when the position was offered to Nauert. Trump sees the UN job as a “PR position,” which is why Nauert, a former Fox News reporter, was selected the last time around, the source said.
Trump announced in early December on Twitter he was picking Nauert, but a formal nomination was never sent to the Senate.
Nauert said in a statement from the State Department she is “grateful” to the President and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for their consideration but said “the past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration.”
Before she joined the State Department, Nauert employed a nanny who was in the US legally but was not legally allowed to work, a source familiar with the matter and an administration official told CNN. The nanny was not paying taxes while she worked, the source said. This was not known when Nauert became the spokeswoman for the State Department, sources said, but she did tell officials when she was offered the United Nations ambassadorship.
Nauert disclosed the nanny when she filled out the paperwork for the UN position, a source close to Nauert who was helping prepare her for the nomination told CNN’s Kylie Atwood. When it became clear this was going to be an issue, Nauert decided to step away because “she was not aware of how tough it was going to make it.”
Trump announced Nauert as his pick before the White House did a thorough vet of her, sources told CNN. The Office of Government Ethics had not reviewed Nauert’s paperwork until well after Trump tweeted he was going to nominate her.