The White House has put forward Trump supporter and political strategist, Ed McMullen, as new United States ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Trump announced his intentexternal link to nominate McMullen, along with picks for several other key posts, on Friday. McMullen’s nomination must now be formally submitted for consideration and approval by Senate vote.
McMullen, who runs an eponymous advertising and corporate public affairs firmexternal link in South Carolina, helped steer President Trump's victory in the Republican primary in the state, according to South Carolina media.
Afterwards, the political strategist was a member of Trump's transition team, and Vice Chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
McMullen says on his website that he "is an alumnus of the American-Swiss Foundation Young Leaders Conference and has travelled extensively in Switzerland and Italy". He also credits his relationships with research foundation colleagues and “key public policy leaders and elected officials throughout the country” to his early career work at the Heritage Foundation – a Washington-based conservative policy think-tank.
Since the departure of Obama-appointee Suzi LeVine in January, the US embassy in Bern has been headed by chargé d'affaires Tara Ferat Erath.
Last month, LeVine criticised Trump for his treatment of the diplomatic service, including how slowly he was moving to name ambassadors.
“I hope things improve soon,” she said in an interview with Swiss newspapers 24Heures and Tribune de Genève. “But the Trump administration’s desire to cut the [diplomatic and foreign aid] budgetexternal link by a third makes me think that won’t be the case.”
Diplomats, she said, “play a key role for our security, our economy and for human rights”. In the Obama administration, she added, there was a confidence in diplomats’ ability to build relations and protect the US.
Historically, Senate confirmation of presidential nominees for foreign ambassadorships can be fraught with bureaucratic hoops and paperworkexternal link, and the timeline of the process can vary widely. But approval of Trump’s picks has taken even longer than average: in June, Time magazine reportedexternal link that the president’s average was 85 days, compared with 32 and 11 days for former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, respectively.
According to a Washington Post databaseexternal link, 366 of 591 key positions requiring Senate confirmation still await nominations, while 106 positions have formal nomination and are waiting for the Senate’s nod.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/db