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Nikki Haley to LIA: U.S. 'can never trust' Russia

Nikki Haley at the Field Museum in Chicago

Nikki Haley at the Field Museum in Chicago on April 29. Credit: AP/Jim Young

Former U.S Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned Friday that the United States "can never trust Russia," branding the Kremlin as an international agent of chaos.

“Russia will never be our friend,” Haley said at a Long Island Association event, repeating the phrase for effect. “We can never trust Russia under any circumstances.”

Haley, who left her post in President Donald Trump’s administration in December 2018, emphasized that she believes Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections and sowed discord among Americans via social media. But she said the United States must keep communications open with Russia.

“Yes, they meddled in our elections. We know that, but we see other countries doing that as well,” Haley said.

Later, she said of the Kremlin: "They get their power from causing chaos and division in other countries. There’s not a bad actor in the world where Russia’s not holding their hand.”

Haley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, made the remarks during a question-and-answer session with LIA president and chief executive Kevin Law at the business group’s fall luncheon in Woodbury. Newsday Media Group was an event sponsor. 

Haley touched only briefly on the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Democrats say Trump used his office to press Ukraine to probe his potential general election rival, Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump said he was rooting out corruption involving Biden and his son, Hunter.

Haley said the impeachment inquiry means that little other work is getting done on Capitol Hill, including on the not-yet-ratified United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

"When you get the political games going back and forth, no one wins," she said.

In her remarks, Haley — who next month will publish a book about her tenure during the Trump administration — also said moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

She spoke of the merits of legal immigration, noting that her parents "put in the time" and "put in the price" by emigrating from India to the U.S. legally.

And she said it had been remarks by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic former secretary of state who lost to Trump in the 2016 presidential election, that encouraged her to run for public office, even though she and Clinton  hold different policy positions.

A theme throughout Haley's remarks was her lifelong pursuit of common ground with others. 

That approach served her well as a top aide to Trump, she said.

Law noted that amid a flurry of departures of top-ranking officials from Trump’s Cabinet and administration, Haley was among the few who left on good terms.

“We understood each other,” Haley said of Trump. “I knew if you kicked him, he hollered. He knew that if he kicked me, I fought back.”

Haley said she made it clear from the onset that she would stand up to him when she believed he was wrong.

“He was true to his word the entire time and let me do my job,” Haley said.

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