Washington D.C., USA : U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced Tuesday she will resign at the end of the year, a surprising move that caught even top Trump administration officials by surprise.
The two, who have clashed at times, heaped praise on each other in front of the media, with Trump calling her “my friend” and hailing her peRformance and Haley saying it had been “an honour of a lifetime” to serve as ambassador.
“We will name a successor, I don’t know, in the next two to three weeks,” Trump said, saying there were “many people” interested in the key post.
“She’s made it a very glamorous position. She’s made it, more importantly, a more important position,” Trump said of the job.
Trump, several hours later, noted that he thought his daughter Ivanka Trump “would be dynamite, but you know I’d then be accused of nepotism.”
He also noted that the name of Dina Powell, a former Goldman Sachs executive and former advisor at the White House, was being floated.
Trump credited Haley for making progress on North Korean denuclearization and pushing Iran toward making a new nuclear deal with the United States, since the administration withdrew from the 2015 Obama-era agreement.
“We are respected again, I can tell you,” Trump told reporters. “[North Korea] looked like a real problem. Iran looked like a real problem — there was a question of when they would take over the Middle East. What a difference between now and then.”
Both Haley and Trump insisted the United States had regained respect in the past two years since the president took office.
“Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy. Now, the United States is respected,” Haley said at the White House alongside Trump. “Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do.”
Explaining her reason for stepping down, Haley insisted she was not looking towards a run for the presidency against Trump in 2020 but would campaign for him.
“It is just very important for government officials to understand when it is time to step aside,” she said. “Sometimes it is good to rotate in other people who can put the same energy and power into it.”
Haley is a conservative and a Republican Party loyalist, though she had backed another candidate in 2016 in the party’s primary before ultimately getting on board with Trump.
The former governor of South Carolina is seen as a qualified, reasonable and strong-willed diplomat who has, at times, gone beyond the stated policies of the president, most notably over sanctions on Russia.
She has led on key issues for the administration, including cutting the UN budget and working on reforms at the organization, as well as pushing a hard pro-Israel line and the tough stance on Iran.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has a “deep appreciation” for Haley’s work at the body, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
Despite policy differences between the US and UN, Haley has maintained a “strong and engaged dialogue,” Dujarric said.
“Haley has been tough on the UN in public, but relatively pragmatic with other diplomats in private, except on some hot-button issues like Iran,” Richard Gowan, a fellow at UN University, told dpa.
Haley also ruffled feathers at the United Nations with her defence of the Trump administration’s staunch pro-Israel stance, which saw the US pull out of UN institutions UNESCO and the Human Rights Council amid claims of anti-Israel bias.
Several of Haley’s UN Security Council colleagues praised her as they reacted to the news.
Russia’s Vassily Nebenzia, who she has had fiery debates with her in the chamber, said Haley was a “friend to all of us” and that he was sure this won’t be the last we hear of Haley.
“She’s young, she’s energetic, she’s ambitious. I’m sure we’ll see her after this well-deserved respite,” Nebenzia said.
Haley leaving is seen as a loss for the White House, which has a relatively high turnover rate. Trump admitted as much.
“We are all happy for you in one way but we hate to lose you,” Trump said. “Hopefully you’ll be coming back at some point.”
Trump said Haley told him six months ago she would resign at the end of 2018.
In the Oval Office, Haley refuted speculation that she might run for political office in 2020, saying she will be campaigning for Trump’s re-election.
Tuesday’s announcement came 19 months after Haley was appointed to the U.N. post, and two weeks after the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York City.
Trump said he expects to name a successor in the next few months.
Nikki Haley Resignation Tied To Ethics Complaint Concerning Free Flights By South Carolina Businessmen
One day after an ethics watchdog group requested the State Department’s inspector general investigate U.S. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s acceptance of seven free flights aboard private jets from a trio of South Carolina businessmen, she resigned.
Haley defended her actions listing the flights on her 2017 financial disclosure and asserted each qualified for an exception based on her relationships with the businessmen.
However the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said in its complaint Haley’s financial disclosure did not provide enough information to make the assertion the flights between New York, Washington, DC and three South Carolina cities qualified for the exemption.
Those flights were most likely worth tens of thousands of dollars, CREW suggested.
“Whether the exception applies depends partly on whether the three businessmen were the only sources of the gifts; if business entities were sources of the gifts, the exception was inapplicable,” CREW said.
Federal ethics regulations prohibit employees from soliciting or accepting gifts given because of the employee’s official position.
The three businessmen who provided Haley and her husband with the free flights were identified as Jimmy Gibbs, Smyth McKissick and Mikee Johnson. Gibbs is the CEO of Gibbs International, and McKissick and Johnson are CEOs of private companies in South Carolina, the report said.
“By accepting gifts of luxury private flights, Ambassador Haley seems to be falling in line with other Trump administration officials who are reaping personal benefits from their public positions,” CREW’s executive director, Noah Bookbinder, said in a statement.
Like so many Trump Cabinet members, Nikki Haley was involved in more than one ethics scandal–she’s been reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act, and we requested an investigation into her private flights. – CREW tweeted.
Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned last year amid a controversy involving his air travel. Other top Trump administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, have also come under fire for their air-travel practices.