The position of UN Ambassador has been held by a number of individuals since Donald Trump first took office, and because none of them worked out, he chose an acting ambassador, Jonathan Cohen, while looking for someone permanent to fill the position. Cohen will now be leaving as Trump has chosen a new nominee, Kelly Knight Craft.
Many, however, question whether she’s right for the role due to her experience as well as her absenteeism.
Who is Kelly Knight Kraft?
Kelly Knight Craft is a Republican from Kentucky. She has had a number of positions within the United States government over the years. She was a delegate to the United Nations in 2007, appointed by George W. Bush. She was also a delate for the 2016 Republican National Committee.
Most recently, she served in the capacity of US Ambassador to Canada, which is where she’s been since June 2017.
What’s Causing the Questions
On paper, Kraft looks more than qualified to be the ambassador to the United Nations. However, FAA records are being used to raise questions about whether Kraft is capable of getting the job done effectively.
As a top US diplomat in Ottawa, Kraft was often absent from her post. Even officials from the State Department acknowledged that she had a number of travels outside of Canada. Her absences cause many people to question whether it’s going to leave her absent on her post as the UN ambassador, too.
Most of her absences can be explained as they were necessary to make the North American trade deal between Mexico, the United States, and Canada. However, a private jet that was registered to Craft’s husband, used frequently by Craft, made 128 flights in a 15-month span between the United States and Canada. This breaks down to about one roundtrip flight each week.
Some of the trips were easily explained, too, because of events that Craft attended in Kentucky, such as the Kentucky Derby and a media interview that she gave to the University where a basketball facility was being named after her husband, a coal billionaire.
Is Craft qualified?
The confirmation hearing is scheduled to take place on Tuesday. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has to look at the issue of her travels as well as her qualifications to determine if she is going to be sworn in for the position or not.
She lacks the diplomatic or political experience that most former ambassadors to the United Nations have had. She served as an alternate delegate for a year under Pres. George W. Bush. She also spent a year and a half in the position in Ottawa. Otherwise, her entire career has been in the private sector, mainly as a business consultant.
Aides on Capitol Hill are concerned about how much time she spent away from her position in auto up. If the trips were personal as opposed to conducting official business, that, too, is a problem. Democratic aides have also talked about the extended periods of time that she spent away from the US Embassy in Ottawa. She has had very little presence on the diplomatic scene and rarely appears at public events or speaks to the media.
This leads to concern as to whether Craft is capable of showing up to the meetings at the United Nations. If she isn’t going to be present, it would be better for someone else to be nominated. In her role with the UN, she would be representing the United States in terms of Foreign Service Officers as well as the other agencies throughout the country.
It is also possible that Craft is being given the position because of who her husband is. Joe Kraft is the CEO of the third largest coal producer in the US, alliance resource partners LLC. Joe is also a supporter of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell is the one who urged Trump to appoint her as the UN ambassador.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be holding a hearing regarding the nomination of Kelly Craft today. She will be testifying in front of the Senate regarding her air travels, her absences from her post, as well as her financials.
If the Senate doesn’t like what they hear from her, she will not take the position. This means that Jonathan Cohen will likely have to stay in the position as acting ambassador for longer while Trump appoints someone else. This can lead to strains within the United Nations, however, as it’s imperative to have a permanent position – and there hasn’t been one since December 2018.