By JASON HOROWITZ
May 14, 2017
ROME — Less than two weeks before a potentially tense and diplomatically delicate meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, President Trump has apparently settled on nominating Callista Gingrich, the wife of Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, as the United States ambassador to the Holy See, according to two people close to the president.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment, and the announcement is pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics, according to CNN, which first reported the news on Sunday.
Mr. Gingrich, reached by phone on Sunday evening, declined to confirm or deny that his wife would be nominated, saying only that he and his wife were told to “be very cautious” until an actual nomination was announced.
The idea of nominating Ms. Gingrich first became public in January, and during the transition Mr. Trump half-jokingly said he was intrigued by the idea of picking Ms. Gingrich because it could also get Mr. Gingrich, with whom he has a hot-and-cold relationship, out of his hair, according to one of the people with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s remarks.
Over recent months, Ms. Gingrich and her husband grew increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of the vetting process, and Ms. Gingrich even threatened to take her name out of the running, according to one of the people.ADVERTISEMENT
Others who were considered include Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, who was an early favorite for the position but took his name out of the running because of the financial strain it would put on his family, according to one of the people with knowledge of the nomination process.
Ms. Gingrich, a member of the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, played a critical role in Mr. Gingrich’s conversion to Catholicism. But she also played a role in breaking up his second marriage, according to Mr. Gingrich’s ex-wife and former adviser, Marianne Gingrich. The couple divorced in 1999.
She told ABC News, during Mr. Gingrich’s run for president in 2012, that her husband had sought an open marriage so that he could keep seeing Callista Bisek, then a congressional aide. (Mr. Gingrich denied the accusation at the time.)
Divorce has emerged as a fault line in the Vatican in recent months. Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, “Amoris Laetitia,” seemed open to the idea of making communion available to Catholics remarried without receiving church annulments.