In a new interview, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley—who will leave office at the end of the year—shed light on how she handled that job while Donald Trump hurled insults and created chaos for American allies and foes alike.
“Is it true that you used the president’s unpredictable rhetoric to our advantage, politically?” asked Craig Melvin, NBC’s Today show anchor who sat down for the one-on-one with the former South Carolina governor.
On the Wednesday a.m. broadcast, Haley said she frequently informed the president ahead of time, partnering in the mayhem for the sake of negotiations.
“He would ratchet up the rhetoric, and I’d go back to the ambassadors and say, ‘He’s pretty upset, I can’t promise you what he’s going to do or not but if we do these sanctions it will keep him from going too far,’” she admitted.
“So you were playing good cop, bad cop?” Melvin asked.
“I was trying to get the job done,” Haley responded. “I got the job done by being truthful but also by letting him be unpredictable and not showing our cards.”
Though Haley side-stepped a question on the president’s skepticism regarding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, she firmly condemned the horrific killing.
“When these things happen, we have to step back and never back away from our principles,” Haley said.
That was the interview’s lesser dodge, it turns out.
“When you made your announcement that you were stepping aside, there was a lot of speculation as to why—why now? It would appear to some that the special counsel investigation is growing closer to the president.”
“I have not had any time to pay attention to the Mueller investigation,” Haley said.
“Not at all?!” Melvin squawked in response.
“I have tuned it out,” she continued. “I can’t do anything about it. The one thing I’ve said publicly, and I strongly believe: I think the investigation, if it’s going to go forward, should go forward. But they need to hurry up. For the good of the country, they need to hurry up and let us know what they know.
Since Haley’s October announcement, there has been a steady beat of trials, guilty pleas, and sentences for former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, former personal lawyer for the president Michael Cohen, and former campaign staffer George Papadopoulos
Melvin prompted: “The president says it’s a witch hunt.”
“We’ll find out,” replied Haley.