Trump's UN envoy often off-message, seems in his good graces




  • In Politics
  • 2017-04-30 15:01:31Z
  • By Associated Press
FILE - In this April 12, 2017 file photo, U.
FILE - In this April 12, 2017 file photo, U.  

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nikki Haley didn't wait to take office as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to break with the Trump administration's foreign policy stances.

At her Senate confirmation hearing, Haley bluntly accused Russia of being complicit of war crimes in Syria - going against the president-elect's talk of warmer relations with Moscow.

Three months later, she remains boldly off-message. Much to the chagrin of Washington diplomats, her remarks often go well beyond the carefully worded scripts crafted by the White House and State Department.

She's warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that "the days of your arrogance and disregard of humanity are over," even as other top aides to President Donald Trump insisted that his fate was a decision for the Syrian people.

She's pushed human rights as a driver of foreign policy just as the Trump administration showed its willingness to work with leaders who have suppressed civil liberties, such as Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egypt's Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi.

U.S. diplomats fear Haley's words could result in an inconsistent, incoherent international message. State Department diplomats drafted an email urging Haley's office to ensure that her public statements on high-profile issues are cleared by Washington. The email was first reported by The New York Times.

In some ways, Haley has been ahead of the curve. Her hints at a change in the Syrian government are now seeping into Trump policies, and the administration has toughened its stance on Russia.

She seems to be in Trump's good graces. At a White House luncheon for U.N. diplomats last week, he said Haley was doing a "fantastic job" - but only after awkwardly joking that if the diplomats didn't like her, "she could easily be replaced."

Haley, a rookie to international politics, was an unusual pick for to be U.N. envoy.

As South Carolina governor, she was outspoken in her criticism of Trump during the 2016 campaign - a stance that effectively disqualified other candidates for top administration positions. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley alluded to Trump in denouncing "the siren call of the angriest voices" who disrespected America's immigrants. Trump tweeted that "The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley."

She has star power in an administration where the president prefers to keep attention on himself. In some ways, the 45-year-old Haley is seizing the spotlight left vacant by media-averse Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Her high-profile persona and relative youth have prompted speculation that she may run for president someday.

The White House and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations declined to comment for this story.

Haley's office falls under the State Department's authority, but administration officials say Haley's staff frequently bypasses the department for policy matters. They said Haley's deputy, Jon Lerner, a Republican pollster and strategist who helped coordinate the Never Trump movement during the campaign, is in closer contact with senior members of the National Security Council, the White House's national security apparatus. Still, at times, Haley ad-libs her remarks, they said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the policymaking process.

They said the State Department was not involved in the planning of Trump's meeting last Monday with the U.N. ambassadors, nor was it consulted. The event was coordinated exclusively between the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and the NSC.

Public remarks by the U.N. ambassador are generally approved by the State Department and, at times, other departments. Zalmay Khalilzad, a U.N. ambassador under President George W. Bush, said that messaging from the various departments has "to be consistent with each other," but he joked that this is not an administration that is "known for protocol."

Indeed, Haley's off-message remarks highlight a broader trend in the administration, with poor communications and tight inner-circle White House politics creating disunity on various issues.

But Khalilzad praised Haley, saying her "experience as a politician helps her in recognizing the importance of the message and the quality of the message."

Phil Cox, a political consultant who has known Haley since 2010 from his work with the Republican Governors Association, said Haley's plain-spokenness comes as no surprise to anyone who tracked her work in South Carolina, starting with service in the state Legislature.

"The Nikki Haley operating on a world stage today is the exact same person the people of South Carolina came to know and respect as governor," he said in a recent interview. "Since she was first elected governor, people have been talking about her taking the next step."

___

Associated Press writers Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, Bradley Klapper and Jill Colvin in Washington and Edith Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

___

Follow Vivian Salama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/vmsalama

COMMENTS

More Related News

Shooting town hall: Rubio on the defensive on gun control
Shooting town hall: Rubio on the defensive on gun control

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was put on the defensive Wednesday by angry students, teachers and parents who are demanding stronger gun-control measures after the shooting rampage that claimed 17 lives at ...

Donald Trump Directs Justice Department To Ban Bump Stock Modifications For Guns
Donald Trump Directs Justice Department To Ban Bump Stock Modifications For Guns

President Donald Trump announced he has ordered Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ban bump stocks, the type of gun modification that enabled the Las Vegas shooter to kill 58 people in October.

Trump endorses Romney in run for U.S. Senate seat in Utah
Trump endorses Romney in run for U.S. Senate seat in Utah
  • US
  • 2018-02-20 02:41:20Z

President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's run for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah, despite Romney often being critical of Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Romney excoriated Trump as a "fraud" who was "playing the American public for suckers." Trump responded that Romney had "choked like a dog" in his 2012 campaign against President Barack Obama. Trump said on Twitter that Romney "will make a great Senator and worthy successor to @OrrinHatch, and has my full support and endorsement!" Romney announced Friday he would run to replace retiring Senator Orrin Hatch.

Trump focus on mental health after school shooting denounced
Trump focus on mental health after school shooting denounced

Frustration is mounting in the medical community as the Trump administration again points to mental illness in response to yet another mass shooting. "The concept that mental illness is a precursor ...

Trump backs effort to improve gun background checks: White House
Trump backs effort to improve gun background checks: White House
  • US
  • 2018-02-19 18:10:15Z

The White House said on Monday that President Donald Trump supports efforts to improve federal background checks for gun purchases, days after a shooting at a Florida school killed 17 people. Trump spoke to Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, on Friday about a bi-partisan bill that he and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Politics

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.