President Trump on Tuesday morning accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation as ambassador to the United Nations. The news was first reported by Axios, which noted that Haley discussed her potential departure with President Trump when the two met last week at the White House. It’s unclear what motivated the decision, but foreign policy officials were said to have been “shocked” by the development.
Shortly after the news broke, Trump and Haley met in the Oval Office, where the president told reporters that Haley informed him earlier this year that she wanted to “take a break.” Trump said that Haley would stay on as ambassador through the end of 2018.
Many in White House in the dark on WHY exactly she’s doing this, and they’re asking themselves why *now,* just before the midterm elections. https://t.co/YMQZ5lu9HR
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) October 9, 2018
Before being named ambassador to the UN, Haley served as the governor of South Carolina from 2011 to January 2017, when the Senate voted 96-4 to confirm her administration appointment. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Haley endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and was often critical of Trump. In February 2016, she described him as “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president,” to which Trump tweeted that “the people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!”
Haley has supported Trump throughout his time in office, however, although not unconditionally, as she noted last month in an op-ed criticizing the anonymous official who railed against the administration in a piece for the New York Times. “I proudly serve in this administration, and I enthusiastically support most of its decisions and the direction it is taking the country,” she wrote for the Washington Post. “But I don’t agree with the president on everything. When there is disagreement, there is a right way and a wrong way to address it. I pick up the phone and call him or meet with him in person.”
While meeting with the Trump at the Oval Office on Tuesday, she was effusive in her praise of both the president and his family. “I can’t say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka,” she said. “Jared is a such a hidden genius that no one understands. To redo the NAFTA deal the way he did. What I’ve done working with him on the Middle East peace plan. It is so unbelievably well done. Ivanka has been a great friend. They do a lot of things behind the scenes that I wish more people knew about. We’re a better country because they’re in this administration.”
Haley lauds Jared as "hidden genius" pic.twitter.com/mAO976xj4w
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 9, 2018
Though she had reportedly been planning to leave her post since earlier this year, the news of her departure comes a day after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington requested an investigation of Haley’s acceptance of private flights from South Carolina businessmen in 2017. CREW has questioned whether the flights were in violations of regulations restricting executive branch officials from accepting gifts from outside of the government. Regardless of her motivations, the timing of the announcement — which comes with the midterms less than a month away — has struck many as bizarre. No announcement has been made as to who will replace Haley as UN ambassador when she leaves at the end of the year. On Tuesday morning, Trump said that he hopes she will at some point return to his administration. “We’re all happy for you in one way but we hate to lose,” he said. “Hopefully you’ll be coming back at some point. Maybe a different capacity. You can have your pick.”
Haley becomes the latest in an exceedingly long list of high-profile departures since Trump took office less than two years ago.
Top Trump Departures
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 9, 2018
Many have speculated that Haley’s decision to step down as ambassador to the UN could preempt a 2020 presidential run. While meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday morning, however, she noted that she plans to campaign for Trump’s reelection bid. “No, I am not running in 2020,” she said.