President Donald Trump is expected to pick Morgan Ortagus as the new State Department spokesperson, according to a senior administration official.
Ortagus, who was a Fox News contributor as of Thursday morning, has been under consideration to replace Heather Nauert for several weeks now, while officials have been preparing paperwork and examining her background.
NBC News was first to report the likely pick.
Nauert moved away from the role after she was slated to be nominated as the new US ambassador to the UN before later withdrawing herself from consideration, though a State Department official confirmed Thursday that she is still the spokesperson and still being paid.
“Heather has been working and advising the State Department,” State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a statement to CNN Friday.
After CNN and other outlets reported Ortagus was expected to be named to the new position, a Fox News spokesperson said she was no longer paid by the network. Ortagus appeared on Fox News Thursday morning, where she was identified as a “Fox News Contributor.” The spokesperson said her role as a contributor ended Thursday.
The senior administration official cautioned that while Ortagus is expected to be selected, she has not officially been named.
Palladino said at a press briefing Thursday that there were “no personnel announcements.” A spokesperson for Ortagus’ Maverick PAC declined to comment.
According to her biography, Ortagus is an active US Naval Reserve Officer with experience in government. She was an intelligence analyst at the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. She began her career as a public affairs officer with the US Agency for International Development, her biography says, and earned an honors thesis for her research on counterinsurgency.
If named, she would be the second person with ties to Fox News to occupy the podium under the Trump administration and the second in recent months to be picked for a high level State Department role.
In February, the State Department announced that former Fox News reporter Lea Gabrielle would lead the Global Engagement Center, the agency in charge of efforts to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.
Nauert, another former Fox News employee, has been absent from the role since withdrawing her name in February from consideration to become UN ambassador.
“Serving in the administration for the past two years has been one of the highest honors of my life and I will always be grateful to the President, the Secretary, and my colleagues at the State Department for their support,” she said in a statement at the time.
Nauert was not expected to return to her State Department job, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNN’s Jamie Gangel. A few days following the news of her withdrawal, Palladino said he had “no personnel announcements.”
“Heather right now is with her family. As you know, over the past two years, she spent time away from her family, and she’s really given her all to this building, to the Department, and she’s been, I think, fair and forthright with you all, and she’s been an incredible mentor to me in the process as well,” Palladino said.
Palladino has been conducting briefings and issuing statements and readouts since December, when Nauert was nominated.
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed reporting.