Source: Trump considers James for UN ambassador

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James speaks during a rally in Pontiac  on Oct. 17, 2018.

Washington — Michigan businessman John James is among those under consideration to be the next ambassador to the United Nations, according to a source familiar with the process.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said over the weekend that she had withdrawn from consideration for the post. 

James, a Republican from Farmington Hills, lost 52 percent to 46 percent to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing in November — a smaller margin than polls showed before the election.

If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, he would replace former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who resigned last year. 

James was previously considered for the role last fall before Nauert's nomination. James has never been an ambassador, but a source told The Detroit News in late November that someone with ambassador's experience would likely be his deputy if he were chosen.

CNN reported Monday that James is a top contender for the UN post, citing a source close to the White House. 

James is reportedly among four people under consideration, according to Bloomberg News, which cited people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg also named as potential candidates Michigan native Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany; Kelly Craft, ambassador to Canada; and former White House economic adviser Dina Powell.

The White House did not immediately comment Tuesday on the news reports. 

James, an Iraq War veteran, is president of the James Group International, a supply-chain management firm based in Detroit. Trump has called James "a rising star." 

The U.S. Senate voted 56-42 Thursday to approve the nomination of Michigan native and former United Nations spokesman Richard A. Grenell to be the next U.S. ambassador to Germany.

Grenell was confirmed by the Senate last April. He was born in Muskegon and graduated from Jenison High School in Ottawa County in 1984.

Grenell previously served as spokesman for the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration from 2001 to 2008, serving under four U.S. ambassadors: John Negroponte, John Danforth, John Bolton and Zalmay Khalilzad.

Trump has tapped other Michigan allies to represent his administration overseas, including former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who is serving as U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands.

Staff Writer Leonard Fleming contributed