25 November 2018

Kenya: Trump's Pick for Kenyan Envoy Kyle Mccarter Yet to Get U.S. Senate Approval

Photo: Daily Nation
Kyle McCarter, Donald Trump’s choice as the next U.S. ambassador to Kenya.

New York — Donald Trump's choice as the next US ambassador to Kenya says he is practicing patience as his confirmation continues to be blocked by critics in the US Senate.

Eight months have passed since the US president nominated Kyle McCarter for the Nairobi post held for the past six years by Mr Robert Godec.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must clear ambassadorial appointments for a confirmation vote by the full Senate, held a hearing on Mr McCarter's nomination in July but has taken no action since then.

"It's a challenging process but you have to be patient," Mr McCarter, the founder of a Kenya-based charity, said in a telephone interview on Friday.

"It's a great opportunity worth waiting for."

Mr McCarter added that President Trump has given him no indication that his nomination might be withdrawn.

DELAYING VOTE

Democrats on the Republican-controlled committee are delaying a vote on confirmation, partly because they object to Mr McCarter's opposition to same-sex marriages and to the refugee policies of the Obama administration.

Especially galling to some of the Democratic committee members is a tweet Mr McCarter posted on the night of Mr Trump's 2016 election victory urging that Hillary Clinton be put in prison.

Mr McCarter, a Republican who is stepping down as a member of the Illinois State legislature, offered an indirect apology for that message at the committee's July hearing on his nomination.

"It is one of those tweets you'd like to reel in but can't," Mr McCarter said in response to tough questioning by Senator Tim Kaine, the vice-presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket headed by Mrs Clinton.

FRUSTRATION

In Friday's interview, Mr McCarter did not respond directly to a query as to whether he feels frustrated by the protracted confirmation process.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month expressed frustration over this and other stalled presidential nominations for diplomatic posts.

Mr Pompeo pointed an accusing finger at Senator Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

"These outstanding candidates remain unconfirmed because Senator Menendez and some of his colleagues are using our nominees as a political football," Mr Pompeo declared. "This is unacceptable."

Senator Menendez fired back, charging that "a slew of nominees have track records of deeply offensive public statements unbefitting of an official representative of the United States."

POLITICAL APPOINTEE

The Democratic senator referred specifically to Mr McCarter as "a political appointee who has publicly advocated for the imprisonment of Donald Trump's political opponents."

The next step toward replacing Mr Godec remains uncertain.

The Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee has the power to force a vote on Mr McCarter's confirmation.

But even if he were to win clearance by the committee, Senate procedures enable any one of the body's 100 members to request that an indefinite "hold" be placed on a nominee's confirmation by the full Senate.

The leader of the Senate's majority party -- currently, Republican Mitch McConnell -- can override a hold, but such a move would likely be seen as an affront to legislative collegiality and courtesy.

Forcing a vote on Mr McCarter's confirmation, despite Democratic objections, would thus qualify as an uncommon option.

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