- In an interview to Politico, she expressed disappointment with how Trump dealt with Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, condemning him at a rally ahead of the assault.
Nikki Haley is distancing from her former boss President Donald Trump. The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former Governor of South Carolina told Politico that she believes Trump “let us down.” In an extended and detailed interview with Tim Alberta, published on Feb. 12, the likely 2024 GOP presidential hopeful told Alberta: “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
Politico says these remarks are Haley’s “strongest yet” against Trump, in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The interview comes smack in the middle of Trump’s second Senate impeachment hearing. On Feb. 12, the day the Politico interview was published, Trump’s legal team printed its defense of Trump.
Noting that she hadn’t spoken with Trump since the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol building, she told Alberta that she was disappointed with how Trump dealt with former Vice President Mike Pence that day, condemning him at a rally ahead of the assault. “When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement,” Haley said. “I am so disappointed in the fact that [despite] the loyalty and friendship he had with Mike Pence, that he would do that to him. Like, I’m disgusted by it.”
She told Alberta that she did speak with Trump after the election. However, she declined to challenge his belief that he’d won, Politico said, and added that she did criticize Trump’s advisers “for not telling him the ‘truth’ about the election and refused to put any blame on the president himself.”
However, she confirmed that Trump “genuinely” believes the 2020 presidential election was rigged. “I understand the president. I understand that genuinely, to his core, he believes he was wronged. This is not him making it up,” she told Alberta. “There’s nothing that you’re ever going to do that’s going to make him feel like he legitimately lost the election,” she said. “He’s got a big bully pulpit. He should be responsible for it,” She did, however, say that she believes the “impeachment is a waste of time.”
CNN notes that “Haley has often attempted to walk a fine line between allying herself with Trump — who remains a hugely popular figure within the party — while distancing herself enough to appeal to his Republican and moderate critics.”
On the first day of the Republic National Convention on Aug. 24, she defended President Donald Trump’s handling of the economy and foreign policy, and painted a picture of a dystopian America under Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’s leadership. “Joe Biden and the Democrats are still blaming America first,” she said. “Donald Trump has always put America first. He has earned four more years as president.”
Politico notes that since she joined the Trump administration as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, “Haley had navigated the Trump era with a singular shrewdness, messaging and maneuvering in ways that kept her in solid standing both with the GOP donor class as well as with the president and his base. She maintained a direct line to Trump, keeping private her candid criticisms of him, while publicly striking an air of detached deference.”
She was one of the few members of the Trump administration who left on good terms with her boss, unlike her other colleagues, many of whom engaged in public spats. When she resigned in 2018, the New York Times called her “that rarest of Trump appointees: one who can exit the administration with her dignity largely intact.”
Micheal Steele, a former chairperson of the Republican National Committee (RNC) told MSNBC’s Brian Williams on Feb. 12 that Haley is “one of the most-skilled officials in our party.” He said he understands the situation she is in, but is “disappointed” with it. “She wobbled with Trump,” earlier, he said, and called her current stand against Trump “political opportunity.”
In the Politico interview Alberta, who “spent nearly six hours talking with Haley on-the-record,” since last fall, confirms that Haley is going to run for president in 2024. And he adds: “She doesn’t know which Nikki Haley will be on the ballot. Will it be Haley who has proven so adaptive and so canny that she might accommodate herself to the dark realities of a Trump-dominated party? Will it be the Haley who is combative and confrontational and had a history of giving no quarter to xenophobes? Or will it be the Haley who refuses to choose between these characters, believing she can be everything to everyone?”