Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have warned President Donald Trump against appointing a State Department official and former Clinton aide as the new ambassador to Colombia.
According to a report from the Washington Free Beacon, the Trump administration is currently considering Joseph MacManus, a former aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who worked closely with her during her deals with Libya, as the new ambassador to Colombia.
MacManus’s nomination has already received the support of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs Tom Shannon.
The ambassadorial role in Colombia carries increasing strategic importance for the United States, given the implementation of a peace deal last year between the government and the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorist group, offering amnesty to many of the group’s members despite the deaths of least 220,000 people. While constitutionally mandated that the deal pass through a national referendum, President Juan Manuel Santos implemented the deal after a popular vote rejected it.
The peace deal will now see the communist group reform as a political party with four unelected seats in the country’s Congress, while the current U.S. ambassador to Colombia has expressed concerns of non-compliance due to continued drug trafficking.
“At a time where the U.S.-Colombia partnership is so vital to our national security interests, and after U.S. taxpayers have invested billions in security assistance for Colombia, it is deeply troubling that Secretary Clinton’s top advisor—who played a key role in the Benghazi cover-up—might be placed in a position to significantly influence foreign-policy in Colombia, our only NATO partner in Latin America,” Sen. Cruz said in a statement. “The Senate should scrutinize this nomination closely.”
“While Mr. MacManus has a career of service in the State Department, it is concerning that the Trump administration is considering nominating ambassadors that do not share the conservative values of the American people who voted for President Trump, and in this case, who helped then-Secretary Clinton clean up her Benghazi mess,” Sen. Lee told the Washington Free Beacon.
MacManus has also previously blocked attempts by Republican officials to investigate ties between the State Department U.S. Agency for International Development, who have been accused of using taxpayer money to support progressive causes linked to Hungarian billionaire George Soros, with no connection to national security interests.
The State Department has yet to respond to the most recent criticisms, although Tillerson’s press secretary Heather Nauert last month defended MacManus’s credentials as a potential ambassador.
“Secretary Tillerson does not agree that career ambassadors lack the vision to solve tough problems,” she said in an emailed statement. “MacManus is highly respected for his leadership, collegiality, and professionalism. He has served his country in challenging posts across multiple administrations and has demonstrated his exceptional leadership.
“He has served his country in challenging posts across multiple administrations and has demonstrated his exceptional leadership,” pointing out that he was “sworn into office under President Ronald Reagan.”