WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump on Monday morning accused Democrats of obstructionism for “taking forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors.”
The one problem with Trump’s tweet? After taking the unusual step of ordering politically appointed ambassadors to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day ― Jan. 20 ― he has sent only a handful of ambassadorial nominations to the Senate.
Trump’s complaint was apparently prompted by coverage on the “Fox and Friends” program of the acting U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Lewis Lukens, praising London Mayor Sadiq Khan hours after Trump created controversy when he criticized comments Khan made about Saturday night’s terrorist attack in London.
The cable news show questioned whether the public discord between Trump and Lukens was a sign that the president should move faster to put his own ambassadors in place. Trump’s tweet blaming the Democrats followed, and he tagged “Fox and Friends” on it.
The U.K, though, is one of the many places where Trump has yet to nominate an ambassador. In fact, the only ambassador nominations pending before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are San Diego developer and Trump donor Doug Manchester, nominated to serve in the Bahamas; businessman Bill Hagerty, nominated to serve in Japan; and Callista Gingrich, the wife of former House speaker and Trump booster Newt Gingrich, nominated to serve at the Vatican.
Manchester’s confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled, Hagerty’s hearing is complete and he awaits a committee vote, and the panel is still waiting on paperwork from Gingrich, Sean Bartlett, a spokesman for the committee’ ranking Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, said in an email.
“The president’s statement is not accurate,” Bartlett said. “The president should get off Twitter and lead his team in sending more ambassadors and other crucial nominees to the Senate.”
The move Trump made in late December ordering the quick departures of politically appointed envoys ― those named because of their ties to a president rather than a career in diplomacy ― has left dozens of vacancies in embassies around the world.
Since then, the Senate has approved Trump-nominated ambassadors to serve in China and Israel, and at the United Nations. The foreign relations committee approved the nomination of former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) last month, and he is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate as ambassador to New Zealand.
“We’re ready to do our job, but he needs to do his first,” Bartlett said. “That’s how this process works.
CORRECTION: Ambassadorial nominee Bill Hagerty awaits a Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on his selection, not a vote by the full Senate.