Firm chair emeritus picked as new US ambassador to Australia

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The chairman emeritus of a major American law firm has been nominated by US President Donald Trump as his country’s ambassador to Canberra.

If confirmed by the US Senate – which reports from the US indicate is likely to happen – Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. will fill a role that has been vacant for two years. The country’s last ambassador to Australia, John Berry, ended his term in the final weeks of the Barack Obama administration.

Culvahouse, 70, is chairman emeritus and of counsel at O’Melveny & Myers, where he was chairman from 2000 to 2012. He practised with the international firm from 1976 to 1984, and again from 1989 up to the present.

He is also described as a Washington insider and well-connected Republican, having served as counsel to US President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989. As part of the Republican Party’s vice-presidential vetting committee, he helped pair former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin with former Republican senator and presidential candidate John McCain, as well as former Indiana governor Mike Pence with Trump.

The Morrison government is reportedly pleased that Trump has selected a playmaker in the Republican Party to become ambassador to Australia. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that Culvahouse “will bring a wealth of legal and policy expertise to the role.”

Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr.