U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday that she’s stepping down from the post. According to Axios, which first reported news of Haley’s departure, her abrupt resignation shocked senior members inside the White House. President Donald Trump said Haley would remain in her position until “the end of the year.” It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted Haley’s resignation, but she said, “It has been the honor of a lifetime” to be U.N. ambassador.
Bloomberg White House correspondent Jennifer Jacobs reported Haley’s resignation “caught everyone off guard — from Chief of Staff John Kelly to Vice President Pence.” Haley, in an Oval Office appearance alongside Trump, quickly moved to tamp down speculation that she is eyeing a possible White House run in 2020. “No, I’m not running in 2020,” Haley told reporters.
Speaking to the White House press gaggle, Haley touted her record as U.N. ambassador and praised the Trump administration’s over all foreign policy agenda. “Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy,” Haley said. “Now, the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do. They know that if we say we’re going to do something, we follow it through,” she added, referring back to how the U.S. responded to Syria’s use of chemical weapons and it’s disruptive approach to the NATO alliance.
Trump said the White House expects to name Haley’s successor sometime in the next two or three weeks, but on Tuesday CNBC reported that White House officials have already reached out to a former member of the team to see if she’s interested in taking over after Haley finishes up at the end of the year. According to CNBC, three administration sources said the White House in recent days reached out to Dina Powell, the former deputy national security advisor to President Donald Trump, to gauge her interest in assuming the ambassador role.
Powell currently works as an executive at Goldman Sachs. She left her job at the White House in January, after less than a year in the role and returned to the investment bank where she was an executive prior to her joining the White House in 2017. Powell is one of the leading candidates to succeed Haley, the report said, but whether or not she’s interested in returning to the political arena is an open question. A source close to Powell, 45, told CNBC she is happy in her current job and is undecided about making another major career move.
Trump said Haley, 46, first brought up the idea of leaving the ambassador position after two years on the job during a discussion earlier this year. Haley said the decision to step down was not about seeking more time with her family. “My family has been very supportive,” Haley said in response to being asked about the decision. “I think it’s just very important for government officials to understand when it’s time step aside. And I have given everything I’ve got these last eight years, and I do think it’s sometimes good to rotate in other people who can put that same energy and power into it.” She added that there will be much speculation as to why she’s leaving at this point, but, “The truth is, I want to make sure this administration, the president, has the strongest person to fight. It was a blessing to go into the U.N. with body armor every day to defend America. I’ll always do that. I’ll never truly step aside.”
Once again referring to political aspirations some might think she’s harboring, Haley said, “I look forward to supporting the president in the next election.” Below, read Haley’s full resignation letter.
— Michelle Nichols (@michellenichols) October 9, 2018
Prior to joining the Trump administration, Haley was the first woman to ever serve as the governor of South Carolina, a post in which she established herself as a rising star inside the Republican Party. In January 2016, Haley became the 17th Republican woman to deliver the opposing response to a State of the Union address, since Charlotte Reid, a congresswoman from Illinois, became the first to do so in 1968. During the contentious 2016 Republican primary, Haley was often critical of then-candidate Trump and endorsed U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida for the presidential nomination.
For more on the story and to see highlights of her discussing the decision to resign, watch the video below.