Amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Europe over trade and foreign policy, President Trump has nominated Mr. Gordon D. Sondland to fill the long-vacant post of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. The EU job has been vacant since Anthony L. Gardner resigned in January 2017.

Mr. Gordon D. Sondland is a self-made, multimillionaire hotel magnate from the Pacific Northwest and a patron of fine-arts museum. He was born in Seattle in 1957 and he is the founder and CEO of Provenance Hotels, which owns and manages 10 hotels across the US, most of them in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.

 At one point he publicly disavowed Trump’s presidential candidacy because of his anti-migrant and nationalist views. The nomination to the ambassador’s post is undoubtedly a direct result of Sondland’s generous financial support, and decades of aggressive fundraising on behalf of the Republican party. After Trump was elected, Sondland donated $ 1 million to his inaugural committee.

Mr. Sondland has never worked in government and like other political appointees he has no experience in diplomacy and is likely to face a steep learning curve. Trump’s nominee is a departure from what Brussels was used to. Anthony Gardner had spent 20 years working on multiple EU-US projects, spoke several languages (French, Italian, Spanish, German) and had degrees in government, international relations and law from Harvard, Oxford University and Columbia respectively. Mr. Sondland will have a good staff working for him, but he himself is not going to be able to do this job to the same level at least for some time until he has learnt how to do it.

He will also likely face doubts about whether he has Trump’s ear. He is a longtime major donor, and fundraising ‘bundler’, for the Republican Party who was appointed to the Commission on White House Fellows by President George W. Bush, and served in fundraising roles for Bush, former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain, as well as for the Republican National Committee.

In order to be  confirmed, Mr. Sondland will need to go through a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which could take  a few more months.

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