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Little scrutiny for Kelly Knight Craft, Trump’s pick for ambassador to Canada

Kelly Knight Craft, U.S. president Donald Trump's nominee to be ambassador to Canada, speaks to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 20, 2017. .
Kelly Knight Craft, U.S. president Donald Trump's nominee to be ambassador to Canada, speaks to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 20, 2017. .

Kelly Knight Craft, U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Canada, got little attention from senators at her confirmation hearing Thursday.

Four other nominees shared a confirmation hearing at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee with Craft, including potential ambassadors to Singapore, Italy and Britain. Senators seemed most interested in questioning Kay Bailey Hutchison, herself a former U.S. senator, and Trump’s pick to be ambassador to NATO, and Kathleen McFarland, named to the Singapore post. 

Senators’ interaction with Knight Craft consisted largely of jokes about basketball.

At one point, Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young played a clip from a basketball game on a mobile phone, apparently a reference to a 2011 73-72 win for the University of Indiana over the University of Kentucky in men’s basketball.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul mentioned a basketball victory for Kentucky later in the hearing.

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READ: Meet Kelly Craft, the billionaire Republican donor poised to become ambassador to Canada

Knight Craft’s husband, Joe Craft, is CEO of Alliance Resource Partners, a major coal company. An athletic building is named after him at the University of Kentucky, where he and Knight Craft both studied.

All of the nominees were asked if they thought Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections.

“I believe, just from reading the material that everyone has had access to that, it looks as if, yes,” Knight Craft responded. “I’d have to investigate it further.”

Knight Craft also faced two questions about trade, which she answered in very general terms.

READ: GOP fundraiser Kelly Knight Craft picked as U.S. ambassador to Canada: reports

In two donations last year, Knight Craft, of Lexington, Ky., gave a total of US$265,400 to Trump’s campaign. Last July, she gave US$16,600 to the Republican National Committee.

In 2016, she made dozens of contributions to Republican funds and candidates across the U.S., none for less than four figures.

“I am a testament to the fact that if this young girl, who grew up 671 miles southwest from here, can be nominated by the President of the United States as the first woman to serve as Ambassador to Canada, anything is possible when you work hard,” Knight Craft said in a written statement.

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At one point, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez asked the nominees for Singapore and Italy whether they spoke those countries’ languages, but didn’t ask Knight Craft if she spoke French.

Bruce Heyman, Knight Craft’s predecessor, faced very few questions at his confirmation hearing in 2014, the Canadian Press reported.

READ: U.S. ambassador to Canada confirms he will resign inauguration day