Nikki Haley and Donald Trump
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As United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley didn't let Donald Trump's erratic leadership style hold her back

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December 12, 2018 12:22 PM

As United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley didn’t let President Donald Trump‘s leadership style hold her back. In fact, she used it to her advantage.

In an interview with Today, which aired Wednesday — her first since she announced she was leaving her post at the end of the year — the South Carolina Republican, 46, revealed that she knew exactly what to do when the president, 72, would “ratchet up the rhetoric.”

“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 the morning show.

Nikki Haley and Donald Trump
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When asked if she and Trump deliberately played up a “good cop, bad cop” dynamic, the politician responded, “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.”

Next, she explained what she thinks is the key to working with the president: “Being honest with myself and being honest with him,” she said. “To be able to tell him when I think we’re going in the right direction or when I think we’re going in the wrong direction, and him be willing to listen to that and discuss it has been hugely helpful.”

Haley would neither confirm nor deny whether she’s planning a presidential run come 2024.

“I have no idea,” she mused. “A lot of people have talked about what I may be doing in the future … [My husband] Michael and I have never talked about running for president, what that may look like, anything like that because our lives have been such a fun surprise. The only decision I’ve made right now is that I’m looking forward to sleeping in,” she added with a smile.

Nikki Haley
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Haley also delved into some of the current administration’s recent scandals — but was careful not to reveal too much.

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Regarding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, she asserted, “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 it again. … The administrations have to talk about where we go from here. … The Saudis have been our partner in defeating and dealing with Iran, and that’s been hugely important. … We have to never back away from our principles.”

She also addressed passing nuclear weapons sanctions against North Korea.

“To be able to pass the strongest sanctions in a generation that brought the world together and brought North Korea to the table was really important,” she insisted. “Ask any ambassador at the UN what it was like when North Korea was testing every other weekend. It was a dangerous situation.”

And Haley also clarified that she’s critical of Russia “when it’s warranted. 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,” she said.

Melania and Donald Trump, Nikki Haley
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However, Haley didn’t have as much to say about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s alleged ties to the Kremlin.

“I have not had any time to even pay attention to the Mueller investigation. I’ve tuned it out,” she said. “The one thing … I strongly believe is that if the investigation is going forward, it should go forward, but they need to hurry up for the good of the country. They need … to let us know what they know.”

When asked if she agrees with the president’s insistence that it’s “witch hunt,” she replied simply, “We’ll find out.”

The 45th commander in chief announced in mid-October that Haley had resigned and would be leaving her position at the end of the year.

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Axios first broke the news, citing sources who said that Trump had accepted Haley’s resignation after she visited him at the White House the week before. At the time, CNN also reported that Haley had resigned, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Nikki Haley
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In a news conference about the decision, Haley said “There’s no personal reason … It’s very important for government officials to understand when it’s time to step aside.”

Trump expressed his approval of her work in her role and added, “Hopefully you’ll be coming back at some point but in a different capacity. You can have your pick.”

Haley’s resignation came as a shock to many senior foreign policy officials in the Trump administration, according to Axios.

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