Trump taps new Air Force secretary

Trump taps new Air Force secretary
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE on Tuesday announced plans to nominate Barbara Barrett as the next Air Force secretary.

The president shared his choice via Twitter, adding that he believes Barrett "will be an outstanding Secretary!"

Barrett is the former chairwoman of The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research center for national security and military space systems.

She previously served in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, first as the deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and later as the U.S. ambassador to Finland.

If confirmed by the Senate, she will replace outgoing Secretary Heather Wilson, who will step down at the end of the month.

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Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad MORE (R-Ill.), who serves in the Air National Guard, previously expressed interest in being considered for the post.

Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyFighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate Air Force probe finds no corroboration of sexual assault allegations against Trump pick Ex-FBI official names right-wing extremism one of the biggest security challenges for 2020 MORE (R-Ariz.) welcomed Barrett's nomination in a statement, saying she advocated for her nomination with the Trump administration.

“Ambassador Barrett is a force to be reckoned with and who has the leadership, experience, and knowledge to lead our Air Force into the future during a time of increased global threats,” McSally, a veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

Wilson has served in the role since May 2017. An Air Force veteran and former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico, she announced in March that she would leave to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso.

Her departure followed reports that her relationship with President Trump had soured amid the debate over his desire to establish a standalone "Space Force."

She tweeted Tuesday evening that tapping Barrett is a "wonderful choice" by Trump, and shot down a suggestion that Trump was being "shady" by announcing Wilson's replacement during her farewell ceremony.

"Ambassador Barrett is an accomplished leader with a heart for service," Wilson tweeted.

Air Force Under Secretary Matt Donovan will take over as the service's acting secretary beginning June 1 while a full-time replacement is confirmed.

There are several nominees for high-level positions in the Trump administration awaiting Senate confirmation, including Defense secretary, FAA administrator, ambassador to the United Nations and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Updated at 6:08 p.m.