Nikki Haley appears to be plotting her own course as United Nations ambassador, at some times even appearing to break from the White House line, but President Donald Trump appears to be fine with it thus far.
Haley has broken with several policies Trump initially was expected to promote in her short tenure, including policy regarding Russia, Syria and human rights. Some U.S. diplomats worry Haley’s independence could lead to an unclear international message, according to the Associated Press, but if Trump has a problem with it, he has yet to voice it.
The president praised Haley for doing a “fantastic job” at a luncheon for U.N. diplomats last week, but also noted that diplomats like her “could easily be replaced.”
Haley technically falls under the per view of the State Department, but officials told the AP that her office has often bypassed the administration. For example, Haley did not coordinate with State in the planning of Trump’s meeting with U.N. ambassadors last Monday. Instead, Haley’s office worked with the National Security Council. Her deputy, Jon Lerner, reportedly keeps closer ties with the council, according to the AP.
Haley’s break from the Trump camp came almost immediately, when she accused Russia of aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes during her Senate confirmation hearing. This was despite Trump’s initial interest in improving ties with the Kremlin.
The former South Carolina governor has also been a vocal critic of Assad, who Trump once said could be a potential partner against the Islamic State. She has also pushed for human rights issues in countries that the Trump administration has been willing to work with, such as Egypt and Syria.
Haley may be differing from initial Trump policies, but the president himself has hardly been clear on foreign policy. Trump appeared to reverse course on Syria in April after he authorized a military strike in response to what is believed to be a chemical attack by Assad. The administration has also taken a tougher line on Russia and a more conciliatory view of NATO in its first 100 days.
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