Trump Said to Pick Donor Kelly Craft for Canada Ambassador

  • Craft and husband contributed millions to Republican causes
  • She would oversee ties as Trump seeks Nafta renegotiation

Trudeau Says U.S. and Canada Are the Closest of Allies

President Donald Trump has chosen Kelly Knight Craft, a long-time donor to Republican campaigns, including his own, as ambassador to Canada, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Craft accepted the nomination and is completing the paperwork process required before Senate consideration, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the appointment hasn’t been announced publicly. Craft declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday.

Craft will oversee the relationship with the second-biggest U.S. trading partner after China and would probably play a role as the U.S. seeks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the White House last week, and Trump mentioned him in a speech before Congress on Tuesday when he highlighted a joint initiative to help female entrepreneurs.

Craft’s financial disclosure filings may be complex because her husband, Joseph Craft III, is the chief executive officer of Alliance Resources Partners LP, a publicly traded coal company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Joseph Craft is a longtime donor to Republican causes.

The appointment is the first of several likely to be made in the coming days as Trump fills dozens of ambassadorial posts that have remained empty since he took office on Jan. 20. So far, only one appointee -- David Friedman, nominated to be ambassador to Israel --- has faced a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and none has been confirmed.

Major Contributor

Craft and her husband contributed $431,000 to Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee that supported his campaign, the Republican National Committee and state parties, according to Federal Election Commission filings. She was also a Kentucky delegate to the Republican National Convention.

Craft is close friends with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his wife, Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary. She is also friends with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, who were her guests at a Kentucky Derby event last year. 

Craft was a rare establishment Republican who stood by Trump, publicly advocating for him even during a standoff with House Speaker Paul Ryan. During a meeting at Trump Tower in June, Craft and her husband sought commitment from Trump that, if elected, he wouldn’t try to oust McConnell or Ryan. Trump assured them he wouldn’t.

— With assistance by Bill Allison

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