WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was seriously considering naming U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to succeed Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, adding he would make a decision on the posting soon.
"She is under very serious consideration," Trump told reporters at the White House after announcing planned changes to U.S. immigration policy. "She's excellent. She's been with us for a very long time. She's been a supporter for a long time ... We'll probably make a decision next week."
ABC News reported on Thursday that Nauert was offered the job, citing an unnamed senior White House official. Fox News Channel also reported Nauert had been asked to take it on.
Trump, though, cast her only as a top choice, saying "we have a lot of people that want the job. And there are a lot of really great people."
He did not give any specifics on other possible contenders.
ABC News said it was not clear Nauert had agreed to accept the nomination.
Asked by Reuters whether Nauert had been offered the job, a White House official said only that she was under consideration. A source familiar with the selection process said earlier on Thursday that Nauert was "at the top of the list."
Nauert's deputy, Robert Palladino, was also asked at a news briefing whether she had been offered the job and said any announcement would be the prerogative of the White House.
If nominated by the president and subsequently confirmed by the Senate, Nauert would replace Haley, who announced last month that she would leave the post at the end of the year.
Nauert, a former anchor and correspondent at Fox News Channel, joined the State Department as spokeswoman in April 2017. She was named acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs earlier this year.
She would be an unusual choice for the senior diplomatic post as she has no prior political or policy-making experience.
(Reporting by Makini Brice and Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Tim Ahmann and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Eric Beech and Tom Brown)