Meet Nikki Haley, the woman who stands up to Trump
Haley did not support Trump at first. When he called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering America, she called his proposal “absolutely un-American”. Her preferred candidate was the more centrist Marco Rubio, a Senator from Florida. Her distaste for Trump led him to tweet: “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!” Within half an hour, Haley tweeted slyly back: “Bless your heart.” But once Trump was President and looking for cabinet members, Haley was high on his list. She turned down the offer of the State Department in favour of the UN, a quieter place in which to expand her political repertoire. It didn’t take her long. She told her new staff of diplomats that her personal motto was “kick ’em with a smile”. In 18 months in New York she has pulled together additional UN sanctions against North Korea after it tested nuclear missiles, and worked to unpick the multilateral deal with Iran. She has also stood up to the chaos from the White House. In December she was asked about the women who claimed to have been harassed or abused by Trump, and said “We should all be willing to listen” to his accusers. After Syria’s use of chemical weapons, Haley said the US would be imposing further sanctions on Russia. When senior White House officials said that she was confused, she issued a statement: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” It turned out the White House had intended to impose sanctions, then changed its mind without informing Haley. That she could rebuke the White House without incurring a Tweet-storm from the President is testament to her stature within the administration.
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote recently that Republicans see in Haley “someone somehow respectful enough of Trump to hold on to her job, but defiant enough to hold on to her dignity”. She has HANDS-ON: the right stuff. Her immediate risk, though, may be her boss, who resents any threats.
At a lunch last year for UN ambassadors, Trump joked: “Does everybody like Nikki? Otherwise, she could easily be replaced.”
The more popular she becomes, the less funny he’s going to find her.
Nikki Haley (also below) has been praised for her UN work