Reports Say Trump’s Considering Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman For UN Ambassador. Here’s Why.
Lieberman, a Democrat who represented Connecticut in the Senate from 1989-2013 and was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, would replace former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is leaving the post at the end of the year. Last year he was offered the job of FBI director by Trump, but turned it down due to a conflict of interest.
What has Lieberman been doing since leaving the Senate in 2013?
After serving 24 years in the Senate, Lieberman, 76, is working part time at the New York City law firm of Marc Kasowitz, a well-known attorney who has been President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Lieberman has also served as co-chairman of No Labels, the group that promotes political bipartisanship to solve problems. He helped run an all-day convention in New Hampshire during the 2016 election cycle that attracted eight presidential candidates.
Who else is under consideration for the U.N. post?
Media reports say that another possibility is Dina Powell, the former national security adviser who is on good terms with Trump. Powell left the White House to return to a senior level position with Goldman Sachs investment bank, but reports said she is considering returning to public life. She is said to be favored by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, two of Trump’s closest advisers.
Other possibilities include U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft.
Why would Lieberman be picked?
“A lot of folks say Joe would be a good U.N. ambassador,’’ said Matthew J. Hennessy, a former fundraiser and campaign adviser to Lieberman who worked on the senator’s staff in Washington. “Trump has had affection for Joe since meeting with him at Trump Tower before he got sworn in. The reason to pick Joe is he possibly could have a good path though the Senate. That’s the very practical thing about picking him. Also, he has a lot of familiarity with international issues. Joe is also very committed to the sovereignty and protection of Israel.’’
Why would Lieberman not be picked?
“He’s actually been a very outspoken senator of the international groups that Trump has been dismissive of,’’ Hennessy said. “NATO. The Paris Accord. Environmental agreements. Human rights agreements. That’s the inherent problem. That’s on the downside. He would not be rattling cages over things that would disrupt long-held American beliefs.’’
What other high-profile jobs has Lieberman explored?
During the tenure of then-President George W. Bush, Lieberman told The Courant that he was asked to consider the same job — ambassador to the United Nations. Later, he was asked to consider becoming Homeland Security chief after then-nominee Bernie Kerik of New York ran into controversy in December 2004 and withdrew.
Both times, Lieberman chose to remain in the U.S. Senate.
How close was Lieberman to becoming FBI director under President Trump?
Very close. He was interviewed at the White House in May 2017 to replace James Comey, who was fired.
When asked earlier this year if he had any regrets about not becoming the FBI director, Lieberman told CNN: “None at all. Out of a sense of duty and honor that [Trump] had asked me, and after extended conversation with my wife, I was going to do it. But there was a conflict of interest when the lawyer who founded the firm I’m with was asked by the president to defend him in the Mueller investigation.”
Does the U.N. ambassador job require Senate approval?
Yes. Lieberman would likely still have bipartisan support in the Senate, even though some liberal Democrats were skeptical that he should retain his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. When Haley was under consideration in 2017, she was approved by the Senate, 96 to 4.
What do key swing voters, like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, think?
In an interview with The Courant in her Washington office in 2012, Collins said she worked very closely with Lieberman on Homeland Security legislation and became his friend. She traveled to Connecticut to campaign for him in the general election during the contentious 2006 Senate race.
“We worked hand in glove to draft the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004,’’ Collins told The Courant. “That experience of working, literally day and night, with Joe cemented our friendship because both of us were committed to putting into law the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission. … I saw firsthand Joe’s absolute commitment to doing what he thought was right and his never giving up until we reached what appeared at times to be an impossible goal.’’
At the time, Collins added, “I consider him to be my closest friend in the Senate. … He’s a senator’s senator. He’s the way the Senate should be.’’