UN Ambassador Nikki Haley Announces Resignation. Why Now?

Trump kicking back with Nikki Haley at the UN last year


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Ambassador to the UN isn’t always a cabinet position, but in the Trump Administration it is (as it was during Obama, but not either of the Bushes). And the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum puts it well when she Tweets:

“Nikki Haley would make a v dangerous Republican Presidential candidate. She’s a WOC who is an excellent speaker & makes hard-right positions look sane.”

In fact, back in April, a Quinnipiac poll found Haley had the highest approval rating of anyone on Trump’s national security team: 63%, and even a 55% positive rating from Democrats.

She is also one of the few POC in Trump’s cabinet (her parents immigrated to the U.S. from India), and the only WOC besides Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (who is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife).

Trump wanted to make it so crystal clear nothing was fishy about the sudden announcement that he held a news conference with Haley in which he insisted nothing is fishy.

Here’s a clip (click on the photo to watch):


Haley’s explanation: “I have given everything I have got these last 8 years“. (She’s including the time she was Governor of South Carolina).

And maybe there is nothing more to it than that. It is a hard job. Many previous U.N. Ambassadors have not stayed more than a couple of years. But that still doesn’t explain why exactly now?

“She has made it a more glamorous position”, the President said twice, in conclusion, “and more importantly, a more important position”.

Mainstream media, at least in the U.S., only very gently suggested the move smacks of the handiwork of the President’s main security adviser John Bolton, whose “my way or the highway” management approach has resulted in the purge of numerous top people in defense and diplomacy. Bolton also served as Ambassador for the U.N. for a markedly tumultuous 17 months under George W. Bush, but was never formally approved by the Senate, and left the job before he needed to be. Overseas news outlets were not as restrained in pointing a finger at Bolton, as evidenced by this story in the Financial Times (which may be behind a paywall, but just trust us.) Of course, there’s no way of really proving he’s playing a major role in the move unless and until a close Bolton ally is named in Haley’s place, and maybe not even then. That’s the problem with speculating about stuff, even though it’s so tempting here.

One other theory for the sudden announcement is simply that Axios broke the story and the White House wanted to head off additional speculation. But that kind of thing has happened before, and Trump very often likes to play a game where he reels back a significant leak, calls it “fake news” and then announces it on his terms, weeks or months later. (Haley isn’t leaving until the end of the year so he had plenty of time.) So that’s probably not it. Could also be that just about everybody in the media has been so focused on the Supreme Court nomination, they just weren’t paying attention?

Then there are even wilder, multi-part hunches, including a widely circulated rumor that this is all about a plan by Trump to fire Jeff Sessions after the midterms and install his new best golfing buddy, Lindsey Graham as Attorney General.  And that would open a South Carolina Senate seat, which the former South Carolina Governor could fill. Couple of problems. Graham denies it: “The possibly of me being attorney general is zero”, he tells Ashley Parker of the Washington Post. And it still doesn’t get us anywhere explaining why precisely now. Still, it’s nice to see that Liberals working on some gnarly theories too.

And please, let’s not get distracted by the Trump-generated flim-flam that his daughter Ivanka would be an “incredible” choice to replace Haley, but “I’d be accused of nepotism.”. Also, Trump would not be accused of nepotism if he appointed Ivanka, it would be a dictionary definition of “nepotism”.

Haley also went out of the way to assure everybody she isn’t gearing up to challenge Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination, which in itself suggests she’s seen in the White House as a potential threat. She hasn’t always been the President’s most ardent fan, especially before she was named UN Ambassador. Now she says she’ll campaign for the President. Definitely the right move, since Trump at least at the moment seems unbeatable within the Republican party.