Former Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello said he would try to reduce rates of ISIS recruiting in Trinidad and Tobago if confirmed as U.S. ambassador during his hearing before the Committee on Foreign Relations last Wednesday.
The hearing was led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Sen. Bob Mendendez (D-New Jersey).
Senators mainly asked Mondello about ISIS recruitment during the hearing.
There were two other nominees at the hearing, Kimberly Breier, of Virginia, to be assistant secretary of Western Hemisphere affairs, and Kenneth S. George, of Texas, to be a U.S. ambassador to Uruguay.
Mondello, 80, was nominated to the position by President Donald Trump in March.
He had been the county’s GOP head since 1983.
“I am honored to appear before you today and I’d like to express my gratitude to President Donald Trump for the faith and confidence he has placed in me. If confirmed it would be an honor to represent the nation in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” Mondello said.
At the hearing Mondello’s wife and two daughters joined him, along with fellow New Yorkers from both sides of the aisle.
From his own party, U.S. Rep. Peter King and Mondello’s successor, Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Cairo, joined Mondello at the hearing.
Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic national committeeman, was also at the hearing.
Senators on the committee submitted written questions to Mondello for the record following the hearing, Newsday reported, and the panel will then vote on the nomination.
If approved by the panel, the Senate will vote on the nomination, according to Newsday.
Trinidad and Tobago has the highest rate per capita of individuals that joined ISIS, Mondello said.
Mondello said he would work with the Trinidadian government and the agencies in his embassy to try and alleviate poverty and socioeconomic problems, to help people “succeed and become employed” and not be as susceptible to joining ISIS.
Mondello said if confirmed he would also assist national security efforts to stem the “surge of violent crime” and fight human, drug and sex trafficking.
Mondello also said he will work to facilitate stronger economic ties with a country that is one of “our nation’s most important trading partners,” Mondello said.
He added that if confirmed he will also work to support the Trinidadian government in efforts to diversity the local economy beyond the energy sector.
Reach reporter Rebecca Klar by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 204, or follow her on Twitter @rebeccaklar_.