The United States Senate voted 61-30 on Thursday to confirm David Pressman as the next U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. Only Republican senators voted against confirming the diplomat and civil rights lawyer, although Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted in favor of him. Nine senators did not cast a vote.
The 45-year-old was nominated for the post by President Joe Biden in May. A Democrat, Pressman is the former director of George and Amal Clooney’s foundation, and worked as a human rights lawyer and aide to recently-deceased former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Between 2014-2017, under President Barack Obama, Pressman served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs. He is currently a partner at the New York office of law firm Jenner & Block. Pressman is still awaiting the swearing-in for his ambassadorial post in Budapest.
The Hungarian press has commented on David Pressman’s advocacy work for LGBTQ rights and on the fact that he also led a working group that fought for the recognition of this community in U.S. foreign affairs. But HVG notes that he his area of competence extends far beyond this field.
The news outlet suggests that Pressman’s nomination by President Biden may be more related to the Russian-Ukrainian war than to the Hungarian government’s position on the LGBTQ movement. The newly-confirmed ambassador not only has expertise in minority rights, but also in the area of national security. Under two U.S. presidents, he worked directly for three cabinet members in positions connected to national security and law enforcement.
At his Senate hearing, the diplomat stated that current assessments of Hungary show a decline of democracy in the country, but that this decline is a euphemism, as it conceals the intentions behind the erosion of press freedom and the influence of the judiciary. This topic needs to be discussed with government officials, but civil organizations also have to be supported as much as possible so that they can take part in democratic processes. [HVG]