'Absent Ambassador'
June 20, 2019

Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada and President Trump's unorthodox pick to be ambassador to the United Nations, spent more than half of her 600 days as ambassador outside of Ottawa, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said at Craft's confirmation hearing for the U.N. post on Wednesday.

Craft testified that many of those absence were tied to negotiating and promoting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA), or NAFTA 2.0, but Democratic aides later revealed that over the past eight months — after USMCA negotiations were complete — Craft spent an average of 20 days a month outside of Ottawa, Politico reports. And the average obscures some puzzling absences. For example, during the 54 days between March 21 and May 13, 2018, Craft was at her post only nine. During the 35-day government shutdown, when much of the embassy staff was working without pay, Craft was in the building only one business day.

On Monday, Politico reported that, based on FAA records, a private jet belonging to Craft's coal baron husband, Joe Craft, made 128 flights between the U.S. and Canada during Kelly Craft's first 15 months as ambassador — roughly one round trip a week. Some of those trips coincided with private social events in her home state of Kentucky.

Craft, a 57-year-old business consultant, is known within the State Department as an "absent ambassador," Politico reports. And because she has almost no diplomatic or public sector experience, senators have little other than her record in Ottawa to judge her fitness for the U.N. post. "We are concerned that the president has nominated someone who fails to show up at work on a regular basis," a Democratic aide told Politico.

A State Department spokesperson told Politico that all of Craft's travels "to and from the United States, including numerous trips associated with USMCA negotiations, were pre-approved by the State Department and complied with all department travel guidelines." And Craft covered "all travel expenses from personal funds," the spokesperson said. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads