Nikki Haley Resigns As U.N. Ambassador

Nikki Haley at the United Nations in New York.

Nikki Haley at the United Nations in New York.

Richard Drew/AP

Nikki Haley is resigning as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and will leave the Trump administration at the end of the year, she said Tuesday.

It is not immediately clear what prompted the move. She informed her staff Tuesday, NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

Haley appeared with President Trump at the Oval Office this morning, where he called her a "fantastic person," and said Haley had told him six months ago that she might take time off at the end of the year.

Trump praised Haley, saying she has done an "incredible job" and is "somebody who gets it." He said he hoped she would come back to the administration in another capacity, adding "you can have your pick."

"It has been the honor of a lifetime," Haley said. "It has really been a blessing." She thanked the president, as well as first lady Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner, whom she singled out as a "hidden genius" who had done significant behind-the-scenes work.

Trump nominated Haley to the U.N. job in November of 2016. The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed her to the post in January 2017, by a vote of 96-4.

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has been a fierce advocate for Trump's policies at the U.N. She said Tuesday that in the last two years, the U.S. had become respected on the world stage, if not necessarily liked. She cited U.S. action on Syrian chemical weapons, trade deals, the arms embargo in South Sudan, U.N. sanctions against North Korea, pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Trump said he was considering candidates to replace Haley, and would name her successor in the next two or three weeks. Haley said she is not running for the presidency in 2020, and plans to campaign for Trump.

"I proudly serve in this administration, and I enthusiastically support most of its decisions and the direction it is taking the country," Haley wrote in The Washington Post last month following an anonymous op-ed published in The New York Times criticizing the Trump administration. "But I don't agree with the president on everything."

On Monday, the federal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called for the State Department's inspector general to launch an ethics investigation into Haley, regarding seven free flights on private planes that Haley and her husband accepted from three South Carolina businessmen in 2017.

"Ambassador Haley should have been conscious of the appearance concerns surrounding her acceptance of gifts of private luxury air travel at a time when her colleagues in the administration were making news with their own lavish air travel," CREW wrote.

Story source: NPR