Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Department Press Briefing - August 14, 2018

Image (not from entry) from, under the headline: American Pastor Brunson Moved from Prison to House Arrest in Turkey

Heather Nauert
Department Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 14, 2018

3:04 p.m. EDT

MS NAUERT: Just one announcement to start today. Sometimes we have many, just one today. It’s summertime; you would think it would be slow, but it has been pretty busy here.

First, I’d like to highlight some good news for the State Department this past week. Yesterday President Trump nominated the following eight career members of the Senior Foreign Service to be ambassador: Michael Peter Pelletier was nominated as ambassador to the Republic of Madagascar and the Union of Comoros; William Moser of North Carolina to the Republic of Kazakhstan; Robert Scott for the Republic of Malawi; Craig Lewis Cloud to the Republic of Botswana; Michael Klecheski to Mongolia. In addition to them, we also have a few others. Judy Gail Garber to the Republic of Cyprus; Donald Armin Blome to the Tunisian Republic; and finally, Dennis Hankins to the Republic of Mali.

We are proud of our work in growing our team in three months since Secretary Pompeo took leadership of the building. We continue to make steady progress with full White House support. We hope that the members of the U.S. Senate will work quickly to get these nominees through the process along with additional nominees.

Some of you may have noticed a few weeks back the White House also nominated four career ambassadors to that post. That is the highest rank that a Foreign Service officer can achieve. Since 1955, just 59 career ambassadors have been nominated or have been named. David Hale, Philip Goldberg, Michele Sison, and Dan Smith are those current nominees that the White House has put forward. We look forward to the Senate now being back in session and hopefully moving our folks along quickly to get our team on the field.

And with that, I’d be happy to take your questions. ...

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks. On that subject, White House officials are saying that there was no progress made, that it remains at a stalemate. So from the State Department perspective, what is the next step in trying to resolve this Brunson issue?

MS NAUERT: Well, I think progress is having Ambassador Brunson on a plane coming back to the United --


MS NAUERT: I’m sorry. Pastor Brunson coming back to the United States. We hope to have him brought back very soon. We have long said that that is long overdue. We look forward -- ...

QUESTION: On Turkey. Are you going to nominate someone to be an ambassador? Might that be helpful to have an ambassador in post? I know this is not the Secretary’s --

MS NAUERT: Well, one – I’m glad you brought that up. One of the things that’s very important to this Secretary is putting his team on the field, and he spent considerable effort in putting people on the field, interviewing people, spending his personal time doing that, really digging into the details, and of course also encouraging the Senate to move through our people just as quickly as possible as they’re able to do so.

I don’t have any information on any new nominations; that would come out of the White House. But I would imagine that the Secretary has a candidate in mind for that. ...

(The briefing was concluded at 3:34 p.m.)

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