GOP lawmakers open to possible Haley successors

Bob Corker, Dina Powell's names floated

By CLARE FORAN, MANU RAJU AND SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN
Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a committee meeting April 23, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Key GOP lawmakers on Tuesday signaled a willingness to support some of the people who have been floated as possible replacements for outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, including one of their own colleagues -- Republican Sen. Bob Corker.

Sen. John Thune, the Senate's No. 3 Republican, told reporters that either Corker or Dina Powell, President Donald Trump's former deputy national security adviser, would both be a "great" choice to fill the position.

"Corker would be great. Dina Powell would be great," Thune said when asked if he had a pick for a successor to Haley.

Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations committee chairman, also suggested that Powell could be a potential replacement, but repeatedly refused to rule out taking the job if he was asked.

"Conjecture is really bad for your health," the Tennessee Republican said, noting that he has had no conversations about it.

"It would make sense to me that Dina would be somebody they would be talking to," Corker said of Powell, adding that she is "well-respected up here."

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, praised the chairman, saying that, "Corker would do an awesome job," though he added that it is ultimately "the President's decision."

Flake said that he was "surprised" at Haley's departure, while Corker said that he "wasn't surprised at all," and also seemed open to the possibility of Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter and a White House senior adviser, being named to the role, though he indicated that he didn't think that was going to happen.

"My guess is that's not it, but she could be considered," he said of Ivanka, who appeared to take herself out of the running when she tweeted later in the day that she would not be the replacement.

The President announced Haley's departure Tuesday morning in the Oval Office. Sitting next to Haley, the President said she had "done an incredible job." But, he said that she had told him that "by the end of the year, I want to take a little time off. I want to take a break."

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday, Trump said he is considering "numerous people" including Powell, whom he said "is under consideration."

Trump said that Ivanka would be "dynamite" but he said that he would be "accused of nepotism" if he chose her.

Some Democratic lawmakers were quick to voice criticism of the possibility that the President's daughter might be named to the post.

"It's the definition of nepotism," Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said. "But let's cross that bridge when we come to it."

"I assume the President's Republican colleagues in the Senate will give him good counsel," Murphy said.

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