Trump’s Kenya envoy pick grilled on refugee rights

Kyle McCarter.
Kyle McCarter. President Trump wants him to be US ambassador to Kenya. PHOTO | COURTESY  

President Donald Trump’s nominee for the post of ambassador to Kenya faced tough questions on his anti-Hillary Clinton tweet, opposition to gay-rights and post on refugee-admission policies of the Obama administration.

Kyle McCarter, a Republican lawmaker in the Midwestern state of Illinois, faced members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

But the session’s most dramatic moment came when Mr McCarter was rebuked by Senator Tim Kaine, the vice-presidential nominee on the 2016 Democratic Party ticket headed by Hillary Clinton.

Senator Kaine said he was “completely perplexed” by a McCarter posting on Twitter on the night of Mr Trump’s election victory. “Hillary for Prison. No, really,” the tweet stated.

Mr Kaine noted that he had spent time in countries where opponents of a ruling party are imprisoned for their political views. Such repression is antithetical to the principles of US democracy, the Virginia Democrat told Mr McCarter.


“Do you honestly believe Hillary Clinton should be in prison?” Senator Kaine asked.

“I am not one to say anyone should be accused unjustly,” Mr McCarter replied. “There is hype in an election that was perhaps not called for.”

Unsatisfied, Senator Kaine said in return, “These are not helpful comments from someone being asked to represent the United States abroad.”

The senator pressed Mr McCarter on the Twitter remark, asking if he “had cause to think about that and repent of it.”

“It was perhaps not the wisest of tweets,” Mr McCarter acknowledged.

Senator Kaine again confronted Mr McCarter on this point. “How does a thought like that come into the brain of someone?” he asked. “It seems so contrary to the values of a democratic society.”

Three other Democratic senators on the panel also suggested that aspects of his record may not suit him for an ambassadorial posting.

Senator Chris Murphy took issue with tweets Mr McCarter had posted attacking President Obama’s welcoming approach toward refugees.

If confirmed by the full Senate, Mr McCarter “would be going to a country that hosts 500,000 refugees,” Senator Murphy noted. And it is US policy to encourage Kenya to take in refugees from Somalia and other troubled African countries, the senator from the state of Connecticut added.