United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley will leave at the end of the year, the latest departure from President Donald Trump’s national security circle.
Trump and Haley announced her exit plan on Tuesday morning — just under a month before the critical midterm elections on Nov. 6. The former South Carolina governor has served since January 2017, as the U.S. has deliberately scaled back its role in the international institution.
Haley, 46, has represented the Trump administration at the UN amid several international crises, including efforts to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program and ease the bloody conflict in Syria. She has also criticized Iran after Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord reached during the Obama administration.
Speaking from the Oval Office on Tuesday, Haley said she had no “personal reasons” for leaving but felt someone else should take the role after she served eight “intense” years in South Carolina and at the UN.
“I think it’s just very important for government officials to know when to step aside,” she said. She repeatedly thanked the president for choosing her to serve in the UN role and praised White House officials she worked with, including the president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Haley told Trump about six months ago that she may need “a little time off,” the president said. He did not immediately announce her successor, but said he has a number of people who want to take the job.
Haley has done an “incredible job” at the UN, Trump added, pointing specifically to efforts to denuclearize North Korea. Haley noted that she does not yet have plans for her next role but stressed she will not mount a Republican challenge to Trump in 2020. She said she “looks forward to supporting the president” in his re-election bid.
Haley is only the latest high profile Trump foreign policy official to leave the administration. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and two national security advisors, Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster, all served only brief stints.
Haley, who has criticized the president on some foreign policy points, wrote a column in September denying that she penned an explosive New York Times op-ed. In the Times piece, an anonymous “senior administration official” said people working for Trump have worked to undermine his worst impulses on issues such as trade and Russia policy.
“I, too, am a senior Trump administration official. I proudly serve in this administration, and I enthusiastically support most of its decisions and the direction it is taking the country,” Haley wrote. “But I don’t agree with the president on everything. When there is disagreement, there is a right way and a wrong way to address it. I pick up the phone and call him or meet with him in person.”
Ethics groups recently requested an investigation into Haley over whether she inappropriately accepted flights from South Carolina businessmen. It was unclear if those ethics concerns related at all to her departure, and the White House did not comment on her reason for leaving.
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