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Monday 16 September 2019
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Trump offers 80-year-old US ambassador to TT

Joseph Mondello. Image courtesy Newsday.com
Joseph Mondello. Image courtesy Newsday.com

UPDATE:

US President Donald Trump has nominated 80-year-old Joseph N Mondello, a politician, attorney and university professor, to become the new US ambassador to TT.

Mondello is poised to replace TT-born John Estrada who left office on January 20 last year, since when US chargé d’affaires John Mc Intyre has headed the US Embassy in Port of Spain.

Mondello, of mixed Sicilian and Puerto Rican parentage, was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 13, 1938.

Trump’s nomination of Mondello was announced in a White House statement yesterday.

However, Mondello’s nomination is not yet a done deal, as Trump’s nomination must be endorsed by the US Congress Foreign Relations Committee.

While the operation of US diplomats is run by the US Department of State, ironically Trump has just fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (former ExxonMobil CEO) and replaced him with Mike Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA.)

If Mondello’s appointment is successful, it comes at a time of tensions between the governments of the US and TT’s nearest neighbour, Venezuela, including Trump on Monday issuing an executive order banning Venezuela’s new cryptocurrency, the petro.

The White House statement gave details of Mondello’s career.

“Mr Mondello, a prominent New York attorney, has served as Of Counsel at Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy, & Fenchel, PC (‘Professional Corporation’) of Garden City, New York since 1997.” (“Of Counsel” means an attorney with a relationship to a law firm but who is not a partner nor associate.)

“He has been chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee in Westbury, New York since 1983. From 2006 to 2009, he was concurrently chairman of the New York Republican State Committee.” Mondello served honourably as an airman in the New York Air National Guard (1955-1956), a corporal in the US Army (1956-1958) and in the New York Guard for 25 years, attaining the rank of Major General. He earned a BA from Hofstra University and a Juris Doctor degree (equivalent to a British LLB degree) from the New England School of Law.

An article, Meet the Chairman, by the Nassau County Republican Committee, credited Mondello’s chairmanship with the upset victory of George Pataki over Mario Cuomo in the 1994 race for New York State Governor. The article said Mondello had professionally served as a primary schoolteacher and a US Navy intelligence officer, and that his voluntary activities ranged from the Boys Scouts of America to various RC charities and organisations.

ORIGINAL STORY

The White House has announced that Joseph N. Mondello of New York will be Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to TT.

The announcement came on Monday, in a White House release under the heading "President Donald J Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administrations.

In addition to the new ambassador to TT, the announcement named Stephen Arkard as Director of Foreign Missions and Sharon Fast Gustafson as the General Counsel of that country's Equal Opportunity Commission.

According to the release, Mondello, a prominent New York attorney, served as Of Counsel at Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy, & Fenchel, P.C. of Garden City, New York since 1997.

"He has been Chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee in Westbury, New York since 1983. From 2006-2009, he was concurrently Chairman of the New York Republican State Committee. Mr. Mondello honourably served as an Airman in the New York Air National Guard (1955-1956), a Corporal in the U.S. Army (1956-1958) and in the New York Guard for 25 years, attaining the rank of Major General. He earned a B.A. from Hofstra University and a J.D. from New England School of Law."

The last US ambassador to TT was John Estrada, who was born in this country before migrating to the US.

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