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Trump nominates William Barr for AG; Nauert to be UN ambassador

(CNN) -- President Donald Trump has decided to nominate former attorney general William Barr to be the next permanent head of the Justice Department, the President told reporters Friday.

Barr, a former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has been emerging this week as a consensus candidate to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general, two sources familiar with Trump's thinking told CNN on Thursday.

Trump picked Matthew Whitaker to be acting attorney general after Sessions was fired last month.

Also on Friday he announced that State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert is his choice to succeed Nikki Haley as US ambassador to the United Nations.

Nauert, a former Fox News host who arrived at the State Department in 2017, would be a relatively inexperienced newcomer in one of the most high-profile positions in US diplomacy. Her nomination sets the stage for a potentially tough Senate confirmation hearing, where Democrats will likely grill Nauert on her qualifications for the position.

In an administration rife with internal conflict and deeply distrustful of the UN, Nauert's nomination would place a less senior person at the international agency than Haley, who reportedly sparred with other administration officials.

Nauert's appointment would realign power dynamics within the President's national security team. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told aides he wants the UN position downgraded from the Cabinet-level job Haley had insisted on, an official familiar with his remark has told CNN. Elevating Haley to a Cabinet-level post broke with the tradition of previous Republican administrations.

National security adviser John Bolton has been said to want the role downgraded as well, according to people familiar with his thinking. A former UN ambassador himself, Bolton has taken an interest in some UN matters, such as the International Criminal Court.

The shift means Nauert would wield less clout than her predecessor, both at the UN and within the administration, and as a result, would pose nowhere near the challenge to Bolton, White House chief of staff John Kelly or Pompeo.

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