John Bazemore/AP

Trump Picks Governor Nikki Haley to Be U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

Haley would be be Trump’s first female pick for his Cabinet.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants who rose to national prominence following her actions after last year’s shooting at a black church in Charleston, is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Haley, a Republican who would be Trump’s first female pick for his Cabinet, accepted.

“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” Trump said in a statement. “She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals.  She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

In the same statement, Haley said she is “honored that the President-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next Ambassador to the United Nations.”

Haley, 44, was not among Trump’s early backers, throwing her support instead for Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican primary season. Indeed, she was a sharp critic of Trump’s, describing as “un-American” his plan to ban Muslims from the U.S. because of what he views as the security risk they pose. “I know what that rhetoric can do,” she said. “I saw it happen.” She was apparently referring to the mass shooting in June 2015 in which a white gunman, Dylann Roof, opened fired inside a historically black church, killing nine people. Roof espoused racist ideologies and had been photographed with the Confederate battle flag, which many people in the South view as a symbol of heritage, while others see as racist. Amid the mourning, Haley ordered the flag to be removed from the grounds of the state capitol so South Carolina “can move forward as a state in harmony.” The action, and her words, cast her into the national spotlight.

Haley was among officials and potential Cabinet picks who met with Trump late last week. She said they had been friends since before his presidential run. Explaining her criticism of him during the primaries, she said: “When I see something I am uncomfortable with, I say it. When we met, it was friends who had known each other before.”

Haley, who has been governor of the Palmetto State since 2011, has no foreign-policy or federal experience. She would enter the U.N. job at a crucial juncture in U.S. foreign policy. As one of five, permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council, the U.S. has more power at the body than most other countries. It also faces more challenges than most others. A resurgent Russia, which is also on the Security Council as a permanent veto-wielding member; a continuing civil war in Syria and unrest more broadly in the Arab world; and the worst refugee crisis since World War II are some of the tests she’ll face.

Haley will also have to possibly explain to her U.N. colleagues why a Trump administration is likely to scale back U.S. involvement with the world body on issues as diverse as climate change and the nuclear deal with Iran, and why the new administration favors closer cooperation with Moscow on fighting Islamist terrorism while Russia’s neighbors fear its renewed involvement in global affairs.  

The post requires Senate confirmation.