WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley jointly announced her resignation Tuesday from a post she called “the honor of a lifetime.”
Trump, sitting alongside Haley in a surprise Oval Office appearance, said a successor could be named within two or three weeks. He said she had expressed to him the desire to leave about six months ago.
“She's done an incredible job,” Trump said. “She's a fantastic person, very importantly — but she also is somebody that gets it. She has been at the United Nations from the beginning with us — right from the beginning — and worked with us on the campaign. It's been really a long time — very intense.”
Haley, 46, served as one of the administration’s top officials for nearly two years after having been the governor of South Carolina the six years prior.
“I think that it’s just very important for government officials to understand when it’s time to step aside. And I have given everything I’ve got these last eight years. And I do think that sometimes it’s good to rotate in other people who can put that same energy and power into it,” Haley said.
As UN envoy, she had been positioning to address U.S. relations with its European allies, Iran and North Korea.
“Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy. Now, the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do,” she said.
Haley had been a high-profile member of the Cabinet. She is the first Indian-American woman to be elected governor in the U.S., a distinction that landed her on the cover of TIME magazine in 2017 in an issue about women who were changing the world.
Although leaving on what appears to be a high note, Haley has at times disagreed — sometimes publicly — with the administration.
In April, a Trump advisor suggested Haley had “momentary confusion” over whether to impose sanctions on Russia after a chemical attack in Syria. Haley quickly shot back on television news, saying: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
She spoke candidly, saying Russia’s hands were “covered in the blood of Syrian children” after the attack in the rebel town of Douma left 49 people dead and many wounded.
The president at the time also criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad . But there were no sanctions on Russia.
On Tuesday, Haley spoke glowingly about Trump and his family. She expressed gratitude to first lady Melania and Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner.
She referred to Kushner, Trump’s top advisor, as “a hidden genius” and lauded his work on the trade agreement that replaces NAFTA, also known as the USMCA.
Trump, leaving the White House on Tuesday afternoon for a rally in Iowa, said he thought Ivanka would be “dynamite” and “incredible” in the role of ambassador.
“I think Ivanka would be incredible. That doesn't mean I'd — you know, I'd pick her, because you'd be accused of nepotism, even though I'm not sure there's anybody more competent in the world. But that's OK,” he said.
Ivanka quickly rejected the idea, tweeting afterward: “It is an honor to serve in the White House alongside so many great colleagues and I know that the President will nominate a formidable replacement for Ambassador Haley. That replacement will not be me.”
After Haley's announcement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a brief statement in front of the White House, thanking her for her service. He did not answer questions from reporters.
Haley will continue in her capacity until the end of the year, she said. Trump signaled that an announcement on her successor would occur “in two, maybe three weeks.”
There are “many people that want to do it, and they’re very good people,” Trump said.
Haley also addressed her future.
“No, I’m not running for 2020. I can promise you what I’ll be doing is campaigning for this one,” she said, pointing to Trump. “So, I look forward to supporting the president in the next election.”