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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Nikki Haley hits back at critics after Russia sanctions confusion row

White House officials say she got ahead of Trump when she announced new sanctions against Moscow

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Crisis in the Middle East at the UN headquarters in New York, U.S., April 17, 2018. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Crisis in the Middle East at the UN headquarters in New York, U.S., April 17, 2018. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Internal divisions in the Trump administration’s foreign policy ranks erupted into public view yesterday after Nikki Haley, the US permanent representative at the United Nations, hit back at suggestions she was “confused” over the timing of new Russia sanctions.

Several senior officials had spoken to US media outlets during the previous 48 hours to suggest Ms Haley had got ahead of President Donald Trump’s decision-making when she announced on a Sunday TV talk show that fresh sanctions would be imposed on Monday.

After reports circulated that Mr Trump had decided not to go ahead with the plan, Larry Kudlow, the White House chief economic adviser, told reporters in Florida: “She got ahead of the curve.

“She's done a great job, she's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about [the sanctions].”

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Ms Haley has been regarded as one of the successes of Mr Trump’s administration. A strong performer at the United Nations, she has helped hold together international alliances despite the “America First” instincts of her boss.

The suggestion that she had taken a flyer on a policy statement was also undermined by the fact that Republicans had been sent briefing notes on Saturday informing them of the new sanctions.

Ms Haley issued a terse statement to Fox News pushing back. “With all due respect, I don't get confused,” she said.

Her statement opens a new rift in an administration already troubled by internal squabbling. It will likely be seized on by critics who believe John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, is losing control of his charges.

Ms Haley’s role has taken on greater importance in recent weeks as a new national security adviser tries to find his feet and before Mike Pompeo can be sworn in to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

But her high profile and complimentary headlines have reportedly attracted the wrath of Mr Trump who has in the past struggled to share the limelight with senior aides such as Steve Bannon.