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Trump Taps Kay Bailey Hutchison To Serve As NATO Ambassador

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune
Former U.S. Sen Kay Bailey Hutchison at keynote panel on politics Sept. 20, 2014 at TribFest.

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump has nominated former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to be his ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – a job that could test the former Texas senator’s diplomacy skills.  

Hutchison, who represented Texas in the U.S. Senate from 1993 through 2013, will represent the nation in the increasingly fractured diplomatic alliance of the western world. Since her name was first floated for the role weeks ago, Trump has alienated political leaders of the three most powerful European countries: the United Kingdom, France and Germany. In recent weeks, the president taunted the mayor of London in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on that city. 

Further complicating Hutchison's new assignment, Trump refused to vocally support a long-standing agreement within NATO that if one country is attacked, all other countries will respond, during a trip to Europe in May.  

NATO was created after World War II to counter the expansion of Soviet power in Eastern Europe.

The potential weakening of NATO could also put Hutchison on the forefront of the increasingly strange U.S. diplomatic relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump administration officials.

Hutchison is a safe-bet for confirmation, barring any unforeseen developments. She only recently retired from the chamber and had strong alliances within both her Republican conference and among some Democrats. 

Upon Senate confirmation, her new boss will be a fellow Texan, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobil. The Tribune reported in May that Hutchison was a key player in preparing Tillerson for his confirmation hearing: She interrogated him in practice sessions, known in Washington as “murder boards.” 

Hutchison is the fourth prominent Texan to receive a Trump appointment. U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Tillerson are confirmed Cabinet members. In early June, Trump appointed Dallas GOP bundler Ray Washburne to serveaspresidentof the Overseas Private Investment Corporation,a government agency that directs private capital into the developing world.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Abby Livingston joined the Tribune in 2014 as the publication's first Washington Bureau Chief. Previously, she covered political campaigns, House leadership and Congress for Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper. A seventh-generation Texan, Abby graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. She grew up in Fort Worth and has appeared in an episode of "The Bold and The Beautiful." Abby pitched and produced political segments for CNN and worked as an editor for The Hotline, National Journal’s campaign tipsheet. Abby began her journalism career as a desk assistant at NBC News in Washington, working her way up to the political unit, where she researched stories for Nightly News, the Today Show and Meet the Press. In keeping with the Trib’s great history of hiring softball stars, Abby is a three-time MVP (the most in game history —Ed.) for The Bad News Babes, the women’s press softball team that takes on female members of Congress in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball breast cancer charity game.