UN’s Ha­ley to leave in lat­est Trump shake-up

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By ZEKE MILLER, DEB RIECH­MANN & JONATHAN LEMIRE

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — In the lat­est shake-up for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s tur­bu­lent ad­min­is­tra­tion, U.N. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley abruptly an­nounced Tues­day she is re­sign­ing at the end of the year, rais­ing fresh ques­tions about the Trump team and about the out­spo­ken diplo­mat’s own po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions.

The news blind­sided some key U.S. al­lies and many con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans in­volved in for­eign pol­icy mat­ters. And it came less than a month be­fore con­gres­sional elec­tions, thwart­ing White House ef­forts to project an im­age of sta­bil­ity, with the loss of one of the high­est­pro­file women in the ad­min­is­tra­tion at a time when women’s votes are be­ing vig­or­ously pur­sued.

But Ha­ley, the for­mer South Carolina gov­er­nor, has of­ten been an un­pre­dictable and in­de­pen­dent force in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. At times she has of­fered strik­ingly dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on world events from her more iso­la­tion­ist-minded boss.

A smil­ing Ha­ley an­nounced her de­ci­sion at an Oval Of­fice meet­ing along­side the pres­i­dent, bring­ing up her own po­lit­i­cal prospects even as she un­der­scored her con­tin­ued sup­port for Trump. With­out prompt­ing from re­porters, she said she had no plans to run for pres­i­dent “in 2020” and would cam­paign for Trump.

Ha­ley, who is 46 and not per­son­ally wealthy, hinted in her res­ig­na­tion let­ter to Trump that she is headed to the pri­vate sec­tor.

“I have given ev­ery­thing I’ve got these last eight years,” she said, re­fer­ring to her six years as gov­er­nor as well as her time at the U.N. “And I do think it’s good to ro­tate in other peo­ple who can put that same en­ergy and power into it.”

Trump was asked why the an­nounce­ment was made now since Ha­ley is stay­ing un­til the end of the year.

In­stead of an­swer­ing di­rectly, he re­counted how she has had to work on tough is­sues, such as Iran and North Korea.

White House of­fi­cials had sought to put a hold on Trump’s record­set­ting turnover in the run-up to the Nov. 6 elec­tions, with aides be­ing asked months ago to step down or com­mit to stay through Elec­tion Day to avoid adding to a sense of tur­moil.

Still, the prospect of post-midterm changes con­tin­ues to hang over the West Wing, and Ha­ley’s exit was one that has been dis­cussed, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial not au­tho­rized to pub­licly dis­cuss pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions.

A num­ber of of­fi­cials spec­u­lated that the tim­ing was meant to pre­serve the am­bas­sador’s own po­lit­i­cal fu­ture. A post in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has proven to be a rick­ety step­ping-stone to ei­ther lu­cra­tive pri­vate sec­tor work or hopes for higher of­fice, and the risk to those am­bi­tions might only in­crease after the elec­tions if Democrats make sig­nif­i­cant gains in Congress.

Trump said Ha­ley first dis­cussed leav­ing with him six months ago. The se­nior of­fi­cial noted that their con­ver­sa­tion co­in­cided with the ap­point­ments of Mike Pom­peo as sec­re­tary of state and John Bolton as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser in an ear­lier up­end­ing of top for­eign pol­icy of­fi­cials. Ha­ley had ex­pressed some frus­tra­tion that her voice had been di­min­ished as the two men be­came the ag­gres­sive new faces of Trump’s in­ter­na­tional pol­icy, the of­fi­cial said.

More re­cently, there was the awk­ward mo­ment at the U.N., when Trump’s boast­ing of Amer­i­can eco­nomic strength un­der his lead­er­ship brought laugh­ter at a Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion. He in­sisted later that the del­e­gates were laugh­ing with him, not at him.

The six-month time­line also co­in­cides with a high-pro­file spat be­tween Ha­ley and the White House in April, when she drew the pres­i­dent’s ire for pre­view­ing in a tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ance the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s planned im­po­si­tion of a new round of sanc­tions on Rus­sia. When the sanc­tions never ma­te­ri­al­ized, White House of­fi­cials said the plans had changed with­out Ha­ley be­ing briefed, and eco­nomic ad­viser Larry Kud­low sug­gested she was con­fused.

“I don’t get con­fused,” Ha­ley said in a sharply-worded re­join­der to the West Wing.

Ha­ley was ap­pointed to the U.N. post in Novem­ber 2016 and last month co­or­di­nated Trump’s sec­ond trip to the United Na­tions, in­clud­ing his first time chair­ing the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

A rookie to in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics, the for­mer South Carolina gov­er­nor was an un­usual pick for to be U.N. en­voy. “It was a bless­ing to go into the U.N. ev­ery day with body ar­mor,” Ha­ley said, say­ing her job was to de­fend Amer­ica on the world stage.

At the U.N., she helped spear­head the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to com­bat what it al­leged to be anti-Amer­i­can and anti-Is­rael ac­tions by the in­ter­na­tional body, in­clud­ing the U.S. de­ci­sion to leave the Hu­man Rights Coun­cil and to stop fund­ing the U.N. agency for Pales­tinian Refugees.

Ha­ley also se­cured three suc­ces­sively tougher Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sanc­tion res­o­lu­tions against North Korea — which the ad­min­is­tra­tion has cred­ited with bring­ing Kim Jong Un to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble — and an arms em­bargo against South Su­dan.

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