Outgoing US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she used President Donald Trump’s “unpredictable” behavior to her advantage in order to “get the job done” as ambassador.
“He would ratchet up the rhetoric, and then I’d go back to the ambassadors and say ‘you know, he’s pretty upset. I can’t promise you what he’s going to do or not, but I can tell you if we do these sanctions, it will keep him from going too far,'” Haley told NBC’s Craig Melvin in an interview that aired Wednesday on NBC’s “Today.”
“I was trying to get the job done. And I got the job done by being truthful but also by letting him be unpredictable and not showing our cards,” she said.
Haley also said Saudi Arabia needs to be held accountable for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, echoing comments she made last week that seemed to break with the Trump administration’s stance on the issue.
“I think we need to have a serious, hard talk with the Saudis to let them know we won’t condone this, we won’t give you a pass and don’t do this again,” Haley said.
“And then, I think that the administration has to talk about where we go from here. What I can tell you that’s so important is that the Saudis have been our partner in defeating and dealing with Iran and that has been hugely important,” she said.
Haley dismissed suggestions that Trump’s tepid response to the murder was tied to his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“In reference to Jared, I mean those rumors fly all the time. We have relationships with lots of countries, and our goal is to make those relationships better,” Haley said.
“But when these things happen, we have to step back and never back away from our principles.”
Haley, whose resignation was announced by Trump in October, also acknowledged America’s complicated relationship with Russia.
“Friend or foe?” Melvin asked of Russia.
“Depends on the day,” Haley replied.
“You’ve been more critical, arguably, than any other voice in the administration of Russia,” Melvin said.
“I’m critical when it’s warranted,” Haley replied, adding, “The United States wants a relationship with Russia. But as long as they keep doing the actions that they’re doing, they’re making it impossible.”
“You can’t go poison someone in another country, like they did with the Skripals, and get a pass. You can’t go and invade Ukraine and think the rest of the world’s not going to notice,” she said.