White House spokesman Josh Earnest failed to name a single qualification held by newly-confirmed Ambassador to Hungary Colleen Bell under questioning from ABC News White House reporter Jonathan Karl.
Bell, who was a bundler for the Obama re-election campaign and a soap opera producer, was unable to name a single “strategic interest” the U.S. has with Hungary during her confirmation hearing, according to Karl.
Karl: “Josh, I want to ask you about something else that happened today in the Senate. You had some of your ambassadors confirmed after a long, long process. One of those is Colleen Bell, confirmed as ambassador to Hungary. If you can remind me, what are Colleen Bell’s qualifications for ambassador? Is it that she was a soap opera producer? Is it that she gave hundreds of thousands of dollars, or helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Obama re-election campaign? Why was she chosen?”
Josh Earnest: “Jon, I can tell you first that you’re right, that the confirmation of these individuals to these important ambassadorial posts is long overdue and we certainly are pleased that the Senate has finally acted on them. As it relates to Ambassador Bell, she is somebody who retains the confidence … let me say it this way, Ambassador Bell has the president’s confidence that she will do an excellent job of representing the United States and maintaining the important relationship that the United States has with the government and the people of Hungary.”
Karl: “Where does the president get that confidence? I mean, in her confirmation hearing, she couldn’t even name a single strategic interest the United States has with Hungary.”
Earnest: “Well, she certainly is somebody that is, uh, that has had her own distinguished private sector career.”
Karl: “As a soap opera producer …”
Earnest: “Well, as somebody that obviously has succeeded in the business world, and she is somebody that the president has confidence will be able to maintain our relationship with the government and the people of Hungary.”
Karl: “Can you tell me that the fact that she helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the president’s re-election campaign had nothing to do with her appointment? You can’t say that, can you?”
Earnest: “I can tell you that that’s not the reason that she was chosen. I can tell you that the reason she was chosen — frankly, I was not part of this decision-making process. But I can tell you that the reason she was chosen is that the president has complete confidence in her ability to represent the United States in that country.”