Trump mulls Dina Powell for UN ambassador

Dina Powell was an assistant secretary of state and a senior White House staffer during the administration of George W Bush. (Bloomberg pic)

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is considering Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s Dina Powell to replace his departing ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

“Dina is certainly a person I would consider and she is under consideration,” Trump told reporters at the White House on the way to board the presidential helicopter as he embarked on a trip to Iowa.

But he added “there are others. I’ve heard a lot of names.”

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he’s considering five people for the job, including Powell. He didn’t name the other four but said Ric Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, isn’t among them.

“He’s doing so well in Germany. I’d personally rather keep Ric where he is,” Trump said. Grenell won Twitter endorsements from conservative broadcaster Hugh Hewitt and other Trump supporters and associates earlier on Tuesday.

Trump said his daughter, Ivanka, would be an “incredible” ambassador to the UN, but “I’d be accused of nepotism.” She and her husband are currently senior advisers to the president on the White House staff.

“I’m not sure there’s anybody more competent,” Trump added.

Haley will leave her job as ambassador by the end of the year, Trump said earlier the day in an announcement that surprised many in the White House including Chief of Staff John Kelly and Vice President Mike Pence, officials said.

Trump teased an announcement less than 15 minutes before his appearance with Haley, after news organisations began reporting she would resign.

Trump said Haley will help him make the “final pick” on her successor.

Powell, 45, a former Trump deputy national security adviser, left the White House in January and joined Goldman Sachs’s management committee.

She had previously been a Goldman Sachs partner and the firm’s global head of impact investing.

Before that, she was an assistant secretary of state and a senior White House staffer during the administration of George W Bush.

Powell’s last day at the White House was Jan 12. Officials said at the time her departure was announced that she was leaving to spend more time with her family, who had remained behind in Manhattan.

While in Washington, she was criticised at times by the nationalist faction in Trump’s base of support, including then-chief strategist Steve Bannon, a fellow Goldman alum who left the White House last year to return briefly to the right-wing Breitbart website.

She was closer with Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who’s leading efforts to broker a deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Kushner said when Powell’s departure was announced that she would “continue to play a key role in our peace efforts.”