Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday stepped up their attacks on Kelly Craft, President Trump’s nominee for the long-vacant post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, issuing a report they say identifies “serious problems” with the nominee’s qualifications, credibility and alleged conflicts of interest.
“I encourage my colleagues to oppose Ambassador Craft’s nomination because she doesn’t have the necessary experience to stand up for American values and promote our national security, and because during her limited diplomatic tenure, her unacceptable absences in Canada were nothing less than a dereliction of duty,” said New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the foreign relations panel.
Ms. Craft served as ambassador to Canada from 2017 until May when she was tapped to replace U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, who resigned last October. During her confirmation hearing last month, the Kentucky native was grilled on the more than 300 days she was absent from her post in Ottawa.
“That’s an extraordinary number of absences,” Mr. Menendez said during the hearing, pointing to a custom graphic he made that detailed the absences between October 23, 2017, and June 19, 2019.
“I did not enjoy living out of a suitcase,” she replied.
The new report contends that Ms. Craft spent more than 58% of her tenure out of Canada, and seven months of her time as ambassador in Kentucky or Oklahoma.
Ms. Craft’s defenders said her duties helping promote the U.S.-Canada-Mexico free-trade deal often took her away from her “ceremonial” duties in Ottawa.
But Democrats said Ms. Craft lacked the background and experience to handle one of the country’s most visible diplomatic assignments.
“Her only professional experience was running a small marketing consulting firm, Kelly G. Knight LLC, and her only prior foreign policy experience was serving for one session as an alternate U.S. delegate to the UN, a largely ceremonial role,” the report says.
The committee voted Friday to advance her nomination to the full Senate. Republicans appear to be sticking with the nominee.
Saying both Canadians and Americans praised her tenure in Canada, Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said Wednesday, “For the last two years, Ambassador Craft has made our country proud as the U.S. ambassador to Canada, and I’m confident her outstanding record will continue at the United Nations.”