United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley took her take-no-prisoners attitude to the White House late Tuesday, firing back after Trump Administration officials accused her of being “confused” about new sanctions against Russia.
Over the weekend, Haley made the talk show circuit, explaining on most major news networks that the United States was considering imposing sanctions against Russia for its role in Syria’s chemical weapons program. But the White House says it was shocked by the revelation, telling those same news networks — independently — that Haley had gotten “ahead of the curve” and “confused,” and that they hadn’t yet discussed sanctions.
“She got ahead of the curve,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters, according to CNN. “She’s done a great job, she’s a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that.”
He added that President Trump has intervened to “pump the brakes” on Haley’s aggressive U.N. strategy.
But Haley says she was clear in her directives, and, turning her now-famous acerbic wit against the president and his advisors at Mar-a-Lago, issued a stinging rebuke: “I don’t get confused.”
It may have been an honest mistake. A meeting held late last week with Haley and other top foreign policy advisors apparently ended with an agreement that the United States would, in fact, consider leveling sanctions against Russian companies who directly supplied or aided Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons development program as a way of scaring off potential corporate investors who might find profit in doing business with the Middle Eastern dictator.
Haley’s remarks were very specific, noting that the Treasury Secretary would be handling the economic side of the administration’s dealings with Russia — and it would be shocking that the administrations’ own top diplomat would simply make things up about specific foreign policy initiatives.
The White House simply wasn’t ready to announce it, it seems. Sources told CNN that the administration was primarily angry that Haley didn’t clear her talking points through the White House communications department before she announced possible sanctions on the Sunday talk shows. The president has long been rumored to want one-on-one dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and could feel Haley jeopardized chances of holding that meeting.
Either way, it might be beneficial to the White House to realize that no one crosses Nikki Haley.