WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley first brought up resigning about six months ago, but there are lingering questions about why it’s happening now and who could replace her.
Colleagues of U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said they were shocked by news of her sudden resignation, praising her work as the top U.S. diplomat over the last two years.
“I was really surprised about this news and it came out of the blue like a flash from from a clear sky,” said Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog. “And I feel a little bit sorry about it because we’ve had a really good relationship.”
“Nikki Haley is one of the most talented, most authentic U.S. government officials that I have ever met,” added French Ambassador Francois Delattre.
The former governor of South Carolina became a star member of President Trump’s cabinet, playing key roles in sanctioning North Korea and pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Haley will remain ambassador to the U.N. until the end of the year.
On Tuesday, President Trump heaped praise on Haley’s performance during her tenure as the American representative to the world body, he said many people would like to replace her.
“We have a number of people who would very much like to do it,” Trump said, speaking in the Oval Office with Haley at his side. “It’s a great position … she’s helped make it a much better position.”
Trump told reporters that he expects to name a replacement for Haley in the next “two to three weeks,” and said that he would be talking about candidates with the former South Carolina governor and others.
“I can say many people want to do it and they want to do it,” President Trump said.
Who’s in the running to replace Haley
Names that are already being bandied about include Dina Powell, a close confidante of first daughter Ivanka Trump who served as Trump’s deputy national security adviser for Strategy. Powell, who came to the White House from Goldman Sachs, was a favorite of Trump’s before her resignation after a year.
Powell, who returned to Goldman Sachs and is also a senior fellow at Harvard University, was deeply involved in the administration’s Middle East policy and was instrumental in planning all of Trump’s overseas trips as well as his debut at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017.
Another name that is floating to the top is much closer to the President – Ivanka Trump. Though the first daughter would be a very tough sell to get through Senate confirmation hearings, Ivanka has been quietly building close relationships with a lot of lawmakers, working on issues like global economic empowerment for women.
Trump told reporters that his daughter would be “incredible” as US Ambassador to the United Nations, but said he would be “accused of nepotism” if he appointed her to succeed Haley.
“I’ve heard a lot of names. I’ve heard Ivanka. How good would Ivanka be?” Trump said. “I think Ivanka would be incredible but it doesn’t mean I’d pick her. Because I’d be accused of nepotism even though I’m not sure there’s anybody more competent in the world.”
He then said his daughter would be “dynamite” as UN ambassador.
Soon after the President’s remarks, Ivanka Trump took to Twitter to rule herself out of the running:
“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.”