Meet Nikki Ha­ley, the woman who stands up to Trump

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - INTERVIEW -

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

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