Biden nominates ex-GOP Sen. Jeff Flake as ambassador to Turkey

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President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated former Sen. Jeff Flake to serve as ambassador to Turkey, extending a high-profile diplomatic post to the anti-Trump Republican.

Flake praised the Biden administration’s “strong, experienced and capable team representing U.S. interests abroad,” and nodded to the significance of selecting him for such a strategically important post.

“With this nomination, the Biden Administration reaffirms the best tradition of American foreign policy and diplomacy: the credo that partisan politics should stop at the water’s edge,” Flake said in a statement. “U.S. foreign policy can and should be bipartisan. That is my belief as well, and my commitment.”

Biden met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey in June as part of his diplomatic swing through Europe and has sought to smooth out the tensions between the two countries in recent years, though Biden infuriated Turkey earlier this year by formally recognizing the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire over a century ago.

Flake served as one of several prominent GOP surrogates for Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign, alongside people like Cindy McCain — the widow of the late Sen. John McCain, who served alongside Flake from Arizona up until his death in 2018.

Flake and Cindy McCain were among those symbolically censured by the state Republican Party for running afoul of former President Donald Trump in the months after the election. Ex-senators typically enjoy a genial reception from their former colleagues during the confirmation process, but it is possible that Flake’s criticisms of the former president could raise hackles from Republicans — or Trump himself.

Like Flake, McCain was rewarded by the Biden administration for her support with a nomination to an ambassadorship. Last month she was tapped to serve as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

Flake elected not to run for reelection in 2018 after he openly criticized Trump for failing to adhere to conservative ideology, making him a frequent target of the then-president’s invective. Flake served one term in the Senate after representing Arizona in the House for more than a decade.

Also on Tuesday, Biden announced plans to nominate Kent Logsdon, a career Foreign Service officer, to serve as ambassador to Moldova. Earlier this month Biden nominated political philosopher Amy Gutmann as ambassador to Germany, and also announced his selections to represent the U.S. in Kosovo and Ghana.

Nahal Toosi contributed to this report.

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