IMAGE: Former Sen. John Danforth
Antony Njuguna  /  REUTERS
Former Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., is President Bush’s special envoy to Sudan.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 6/4/2004 3:51:57 PM ET 2004-06-04T19:51:57

President Bush said Friday that he had chosen former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

If confirmed by the Senate, Danforth, a Republican who is a popular figure among both Republicans and Democrats, would succeed the current ambassador, John Negroponte, Bush’s choice to be ambassador to Iraq.

Danforth, 68, an heir to the Ralston Purina fortune, is both a lawyer and an Episcopal minister. He was the chief defender of Clarence Thomas, a former staff member, during the contentious hearings on Thomas’ confirmation to the Supreme Court in 1991.

Danforth led the independent inquiry in 2000 into the federal siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993. He cleared the FBI, concluding that blame for the catastrophe, in which 80 people died, rested solely with cult leader David Koresh.

Danforth was widely believed to have been a finalist when Bush was considering vice presidential running mates in 2000. Since 2001, he has been Bush’s special envoy to war-torn Sudan.

Bush made the announcement in a statement released while he was in Rome on a three-day European trip during which the U.N.’s role in post-occupation Iraq is a major topic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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