Washington: In a surprise move, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert withdrew her nomination to replace Indian-American Nikki Haley as the top US diplomat at the United Nations, amid criticism by Democrats for her lack of diplomatic experience.
Nauert, 48, a former Fox News anchor, issued a statement on Saturday citing family reasons for her decision. "I am grateful to President (Donald) Trump and Secretary (Mike) Pompeo for the trust they placed in me for considering me for the position of US Ambassador to the United Nations," Nauert said.
"However, the past two months have been gruelling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration,â she said.
Nauret said her two years with the administration had been "one of the highest honours of my life and I will always be grateful to the President, the Secretary, and my colleagues at the State Department for their supportâ.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said President Trump will make an announcement about a new nominee soon. Pompeo said she had performed her duties as a senior member of his team "with unequalled excellence".
"Her personal decision today to withdraw her name from consideration to become the nominee for United States Ambassador to the United Nations is a decision for which I have great respect,â Pompeo said.
President Trump nominated Nauert for the top diplomatic position at the UN in November, weeks after Haley announced her resignation. Senators from the opposition Democratic party raised questions over her qualification as the top US diplomat to the United Nations.
In the past, the position was held by some of the top American political leaders and diplomats including former president George H W Bush.
"She has no foreign policy experience that I can deduce, and being a spokesperson is different than being the chief diplomat of the United States at a world body like the UN," Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had said.
Many of her supporters argued she's more than qualified for the role, noting her practice in messaging the Trump administration's foreign policy for nearly two years.