Rubio Joins Lee, Cruz in Opposing Trump's Choice for Colombia Ambassador

Career official with ties to Hillary Clinton nominated by Trump

Sen. Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio / Getty Images
November 28, 2017

Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) is the latest senator to take issue with President Donald Trump's selection of a career State Department official and former top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be ambassador to Colombia.

Late last Tuesday, Trump tapped Joseph MacManus, a 30-year veteran of the foreign service, for the ambassadorship.

Rubio, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said late Monday he has "serious concerns" about the nomination, guaranteeing a bumpy confirmation process for MacManus when he appears before the panel.

"It is deeply concerning that Mr. MacManus was somehow selected to lead our only NATO partner in Latin America," Rubio told the Washington Free Beacon. "As a former adviser to Secretary Clinton, he played a significant role in the spread of misinformation following the Benghazi attacks, and I have serious concerns over his ability to represent our interests and adequately influence U.S. foreign policy in such an important capacity."

Rubio joins GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Mike Lee (Utah), who have previously voiced deep concerns that MacManus was too close to Clinton during her tenure and does not share Trump's "America First" agenda and other foreign policy goals, in opposing MacManus.

On Tuesday Lee said he is "extremely disappointed" to hear that Trump nominated MacManus despite his warnings and concerns.

"At a time when we should be cleaning up the State Department and realigning our foreign-policy priorities to reflect those of the current administration, an Obama-era diplomat is not the right person to head our embassy in Colombia, a critical U.S. ally in the region," Lee told the Free Beacon.

MacManus's nomination has the support of both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Tom Shannon, a career diplomat who serves in the State Department as undersecretary for political affairs and is considered Tillerson's right-hand man.

MacManus was one of Clinton's top aides at State and was deeply involved in the State Department's initial response to the Benghazi attack and became entangled in the scandal over Clinton's use of a private email server.

Some conservatives in the foreign-policy community are vehemently opposed to the MacManus nomination and argue that the role of ambassador to Colombia is a critical one and should go to a political appointee committed to Trump's agenda, rather than a career diplomat entrenched in the State Department bureaucracy.

The U.S. diplomatic post in Bogota carries new strategic importance given allegations of noncompliance of a historic peace accord signed in December between the Colombian government and FARC rebels.

The Drug Enforcement Agency earlier this month faulted Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos's administration decision to halt aerial spraying, which is said to have led to the highest levels of Colombia production of cocaine ever recorded.

The White House did not respond to criticism of MacManus's nomination. The State Department referred questions about the nomination to the White House.

Update 2:12 p.m.: This post has been updated with comment from Sen. Lee.

Published under: Marco Rubio