Biden prepares to announce first slate of ambassador nominees as he travels overseas for the first time

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The White House has begun notifying countries of the president’s choice, officials said, which is one of the final steps before the ambassador is formally nominated. The desire to find a diverse roster of candidates has been repeatedly delayed because of extensive vetting, but officials said top diplomats could be announced next week.

“We hope to have more soon,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday. The notification process of officials in the host countries was already underway.

A White House official said Friday that the administration’s goal is to make the announcement before the president leaves for his first foreign trip next week. Yet the timeline has been pushed back time and again, so the official refused to guarantee that the target would be reached.

Top diplomats from China, Japan, Israel, India and several European countries are expected to join the first wave of ambassadors. The list includes several top donors, the former senator and her husband, people familiar with the selection tell CNN.

One of the biggest questions still in the hunt for US ambassadors is for the Court of St. James, the prestigious post in the United Kingdom. This has been the subject of much discussion on both sides of the Atlantic, but several officials told CNN they were not sure who Biden settled with or whether a final choice would even be made before Biden made his first visit next week. . A break from your week long tour. A person familiar with the matter said that many candidates have turned down the post, which has sped up the selection process.

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat Those who have served the presidents of both political parties are expected to be nominated as ambassadors to China.

Former mayor of Chicago, Congressman from Illinois and first White House chief of staff in the Obama administration, Rahm Emanuel, may be named as ambassador to Japan.

Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and a longtime executive at Morgan Stanley, is expected to be tapped as ambassador to Israel. The post has assumed even greater importance in the wake of the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza late last month and the possible collapse of longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Nominees are subject to confirmation hearings in a closely divided Senate, meaning no ambassadors are likely to be in their positions before late summer or early fall.

Timing has put the Biden administration behind the pace set by his most recent predecessors and has caused frustration among some State Department officials and top donors, who have been in a holding pattern for months. Foreign diplomats in Washington have also privately raised questions about the delay.

Vicki Kennedy, the wife of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, is also a leading contender to serve as ambassador to Germany, people familiar with the process told CNN.

Those closely monitoring the process, including former ambassadors, donors and State Department officials, also say Cindy McCain, wife of the late Sen. John McCain, is expected to be named as the US envoy to the United Nations Food Program in Rome. is.

Denise Bauer, Belgium’s ambassador to the Obama administration and women’s leader for Biden, is on course to be elected as ambassador to France. And Miami real estate developer Michael Adler, who has a long friendship with Biden, is expected to be nominated for the position in Belgium.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who served on Biden’s vice-chair selection committee, is expected to be elected as ambassador to India.

The president is also considering former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar for ambassador to Mexico. Former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and former Arizona Sen. Jeff Fleck are also being considered for other positions, people familiar with the matter say, as is Claire Lucas, a top Biden fundraiser and chairman of the LGBTQ Victory Institute board of directors. Huh.

At least two high-level claimants had been taken out of consideration in recent weeks, a person familiar with the matter said, following the finances and statements on social media as a potential challenger during the confirmation process. emerged.

Above all, a senior administration official said, one of the biggest reasons for the delay is that selection has become a musical chair game. Several donors or friends of Biden expressed interest in one position, but were offered a second choice given the overall list of nominees.

“Diversity among ambassadors is as important for the president as diversity in his cabinet,” a White House official said on condition of anonymity, speaking about the closed-door process. “And it’s a process.”

Since Biden took office, the political situation in several major countries has changed. Israel is the biggest example, with a deadly conflict last month leading to a ceasefire and the prospect of a new prime minister.

The Biden administration’s policy on the Middle East will be confirmed during the hearing, which is expected to take place later this summer.

From Capitol Hill to the Middle East, the selection of Nides has been the subject of much discussion among people close to Israel for weeks.

Long a top Democratic donor, Nides served as chief operating officer at Morgan Stanley in 2010 before stepping down to serve under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He returned to Morgan Stanley in 2013 as vice president. Nides is married to CNN executive Virginia Moseley, senior vice president of domestic news gathering.

A White House official declined to say whether the formal proposal was extended to those named for Nides or other countries, but told CNN: “We are not commenting on anyone and no one is final. until they are announced.”

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