Kyle McCarter confirmed as new US ambassador to Kenya
A long and difficult political process ended successfully on Thursday when the US Senate voted to confirm Kyle McCarter as Washington’s new envoy to Kenya.
Mr McCarter, the 56-year-old founder of a Kenya-based charity, secured the post nine months after he had been nominated by President Donald Trump as the successor to Ambassador Robert Godec.
Several Democratic members of the Republican-controlled Senate had expressed strong opposition to Mr McCarter’s conservative views on gay rights and his tweet on Election Night in 2016 suggesting that Hillary Clinton be sent to prison.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the nomination by a 12-9 vote last month. All but one of the panel’s Democrats opposed referring the choice of Mr McCarter to the full 100-member upper house of Congress.
No roll-call vote was taken on Thursday, with senators approving Mr McCarter’s nomination by a voice vote.
In a dramatic exchange at a Foreign Relations Committee session in July, Senator Tim Kaine challenged Mr McCarter’s call for Mrs Clinton to be imprisoned.
The senator had run for vice-president in 2016 on the Democratic ticket headed by Mrs Clinton, who has never been charged with a crime.
“How does a thought like that come into the brain of someone?” Mr Kaine asked Mr McCarter in regard to the tweet posted soon after Mr Trump’s victory. “It seems so contrary to the values of a democratic society.”
Mr McCarter offered an indirect apology for his remark, saying “It is one of those tweets you’d like to reel in but can’t.”
He also assured senators that he would not let his own political views intrude on his duties as ambassador.
“I will use my experiences in business, public service and philanthropy to build on the already strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Kenya,” he told the committee.
“I will continue to demonstrate the goodwill and generosity of the American people.”
Mr McCarter is said to be a fluent Swahili speaker. He served for 10 years as a Republican member of the Illinois state legislature.
By KEVIN J. KELLEY