Morgan Ortagus is the US State Department spokesperson. She was sworn in to the job on April 3, 2019, replacing outgoing spokesperson Heather Nauert. Then, after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that she was leaving her job, rumors began spreading that Ortegus might be tapped to take over.
Some news reports said that the deputy White House press secretary, Hogan Gitley, might be appointed to be interim press secretary but that the president wanted to choose a woman as the next press secretary.
Here’s what you need to know about Morgan Ortagus:
1. She Is a Navy Reserve Officer
Ortagus is a Navy reserve officer. She has also worked for the US Agency for International Development, or USAID. In 2007, Ortegus spent several months in Baghdad with USAID. She went on to work in the department of the treasury. In 2010, Ortagus was assigned to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the Deputy U.S. Treasury Attaché. There, she served as the liaison from the treasury department to bankers in Saudi Arabia. Her work in Saudi Arabia also focused on working with the Saudi Arabian government to help put an end to illicit finances being invested in the country.
Ortagus remained at the Treasury Department after leaving Saudi Arabia, serving as an intelligence analyst in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis from 2008 to 2010 and working on identiying individual terrorists who could be listed on the United Nations Sanctions List.
2. She Has Sharply Criticized Donald Trump in the Past & Compared Him to a ‘Middle School Pubescent Boy’
Ortagus was an outspoken critic of Donald Trump during the Republican primaries back in 2016. At that time, she was working for a PAC associated with Jeb Bush, another candidate in the Republican primaries. During an appearance on Fox News, Ortagus criticized what she called his “isolationist foreign policy approach.” She said, “in his gut, he does not think that Americans should be, quote unquote, the policemen of the world. I don’t see it that way. I think that America is the glue that holds the world together. … So there were points that I agreed with him today, but overall, I fundamentally disagree with his isolationist approach to foreign policy.”
Earlier that year, she also called then-candidate Trump “disgusting” after he made fun of a reporter with physical disabilities. She said, “You have somebody who makes fun of people with mental and physical disabilities. That’s disgusting; there’s no other way around it. Quite frankly, I don’t want someone with the temperament of a middle school pubescent boy in the president’s office.”
3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Officiated at Her Wedding
Ortagus married Jonathan Ross Weinberger in 2013. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg performed the ceremony in her chambers at the Supreme Court in Washington. The couple also held a separate Jewish ceremony later that day in Georgetown.
Weinberger served as the executive director to the department of the treasury from 2006 to 2007. He now works as an executive vice president in Washington for Veedims, a company that specializes in data-control systems for cars and for buildings.
Ortagus was previously married to Joshua Dobbs, a Marine who served in the front lines in Iraq. That marriage ended in divorce.
4. She Was a National Security Contributor at Fox News
Ortagus was a contributor at Fox News, specializing in national security. She stepped away from Fox News before being appointed to be State Department spokesperson.
After reports in the media said that Ortagus was expected to be named as State Department spokesperson, a Fox News spokesperson told CNN that she was no longer being paid by the network. Ortagus last appeared on Fox News on the morning of March 28 and was identified as a “Fox News Contributor.” Fox told CNN that Ortegus’s role as a contributor ended on that Thursday.
5. She Grew Up in Florida & Was Once Crowned Miss Florida Citrus
Ortagus was born in Polk County, Florida. She graduated from Florida Southern College in 2005 with a degree in Political Science. She went on to earn a Masters from John Hopkins University in 2009 and a Masters of Business Administration from Carey Business School at John Hopkins University in 2013.
In 2002, Ortagus was crowned Miss Florida Citrus. She traveled as far as China as a representative of the Florida citrus industry. In 2002, she was the runner-up to be Miss Florida. She was praised for her foreign policy knowledge and for her volunteer work with groups like SADD (Students Against Destructive Decision) and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
Ortagus began participating in pageants as a girl and has won Miss Auburndale and Miss Teen Auburndale. She said that she was ending her participation in pageants at the age of 21, when she got engaged to her first husband.