Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s top economic policy adviser, apologized to Nikki Haley on Tuesday night for saying she was confused when she announced Trump’s administration would hit Russia with new sanctions.
Haley had spoken out of turn when she said Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation” the administration would sanction Russian individuals and companies with ties to Syria’s chemical weapons program, Kudlow said earlier Tuesday.
“She got ahead of the curve,” Kudlow said. “She’s done a great job. She’s a very effective ambassador, but there might have been some momentary confusion about that.”
Upon hearing of Kudlow’s comments, Haley said there was no confusion on her part.
“With all due respect, I don’t get confused,” Haley said in a statement Fox News host Dana Perino read.
Kudlow almost immediately walked back his version of the story, telling the New York Times he was “wrong to say that — totally wrong.”
Kudlow had called Haley to apologize and admitted he was the one who had spoken without understanding what had transpired, he went on to say.
“As it turns out, she was basically following what she thought was policy,” Kudlow, the new director of the National Economic Council, said. “The policy was changed; and she wasn’t told about it, so she was in a box.”
In her position as the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Haley has been the Trump administration’s most vocal proponent of targeting Moscow with sanctions for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She appeared to catch the White House by surprise on Sunday, however, when she said administration officials would announce new sanctions on Russia as early as Monday.
“You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down,” Haley said on “Face The Nation.” “Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn’t already, and they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use.”
The next day, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders qualified Haley’s comments by saying the administration was “considering additional sanctions on Russia” but that no final decision had been made.
Kudlow’s mea culpa notwithstanding, Haley was in fact mistaken about the plan to levy new sanctions, some White House officials reportedly said. Trump had not given final approval for the sanctions by the time Haley made her comments on “Face The Nation” and a second show, “Fox News Sunday,” CNN reported, citing two senior administration officials.
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