President Trump on Friday morning gloated that the Baltimore home of House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) had been burglarized. Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who in December stepped down as Trump’s U.N. ambassador, did not approve. “This is so unnecessary,” she tweeted, along with a rolling-eyes emoiji.
This is so unnecessary. 🙄
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) August 2, 2019
Though it was only four words (and an emoji, which admittedly contain multitudes), the rebuke was surprising considering Haley had until Friday largely refrained from criticizing any of Trump’s myriad statements or actions deserving of condemnation. While serving as U.N. ambassador, a position she miraculously held for nearly two years without drawing the ire of the president, she successfully was able to defend the president’s most abhorrent impulses while at the same time refraining from enthusiastically endorsing them. The closest she came to denouncing him was probably during a 2018 interview with CBS when she said “you’re not going to be hearing me defend that” in reference to the president’s “communication style.”
Haley’s deference to the president led him to give her a particularly warm sendoff as the two announced her resignation together last October. “She said, ‘You know, maybe at the end of the year … I want to take a little break,” Trump told reporters while seated next to Haley in the Oval Office. “So, Nikki, I just wanted to tell you that we will miss you.” Trump added that Haley is “very special to me.” During the same event, Haley called Trump a “fantastic person.”
The good will between Trump and Haley led some to speculate he might install her on his 2020 presidential ticket in place of Vice President Mike Pence. Though idle — Trump Trump told Meet the Press in June that Pence will “100%” be his running mate” — the speculation serves as a reminder that Haley is widely seen as a potential GOP presidential candidate some day.
Haley has continued to offer support for the president since leaving his Cabinet, including earlier this week when she defended his tweets describing Cummings’ congressional as “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”
“Instead of all of this back and forth about who everyone thinks is racist and whose not, the President just offered to help the people of Baltimore,” Haley tweeted on Tuesday. “They should take him up on it. Let’s put the same energy into where it will make a difference.”
The show of support on Tuesday apparently wasn’t enough to offset her disapproval of Trump’s tweet about Cummings’ house being robbed on Friday. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway responded to Haley’s tweet with an apparent reference to the speculation that she could replace Pence on Trump’s 2020 ticket. “THIS is so unnecessary,” Conway wrote. “Trump-PENCE2020.”
THIS is so unnecessary
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) August 2, 2019
But Haley may have larger ambitions that serving as Trump’s vice president. Though she’s currently writing a book about her time in the Trump’s Cabinet, many have wondered whether leaving the administration could have been a way of insulating herself ahead of a possible presidential run in 2024. So far, she’s (kind of) denied speculation that she’s considering a run at the White House. “Everyone thinks that I’m ambitious and everybody thinks I’m trying to run for something and everybody thinks I want more,” she told CNN last spring. “I can’t imagine running for the White House.”
A lot can change in a year.