Since he fired all the US ambassadors who were political appointees of Barack Obama, US president Donald Trump has had only two replacements confirmed by the Senate: Nikki Haley, to the United Nations, and David Friedman, to Israel. That means the US has no top representative to 57 countries and territories with a total population of 3.9 billion.
Those countries include some of the US’s most important allies and partnerships—such as Canada, India, the UK, and Saudi Arabia—and makes for tricky situations when, for example, you have the Chinese president about to visit.
Trump’s administration has also announced political nominees only for Japan, China, and the UK, as well as career diplomats for Senegal and the Republic of Congo. Of those five, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee can only process Senegal and Congo, since paperwork for the Japan and China nominees hasn’t been finished, said Sean Bartlett, spokesman for senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the committee.
“The question is not why hasn’t the Senate moved forward on nominees,” said one senior Senate Democrat staffer. “It is: Why is the administration either incapable of, or choosing not to, send up complete files of their nominees in a timely fashion?”
Trump has said New York Jets owner Woody Johnson will be ambassador to the UK, but his name has not been formally put to the Senate, Bartlett says. Meanwhile, former ambassador to China and governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, has reportedly accepted the job of ambassador to Russia, but the White House has not officially announced that—and there’s currently a career ambassador, John Tefft, in place.
The White House didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment on the nomination process—we’ll update if it does.
The full list of countries (plus the Vatican) without ambassadors:
|Country/Territory||Population in 2015 (millions)|
|Trinidad and Tobago||1.36|
Data: The World Bank
** Data for Eritrea is from 2011