Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations discusses Trump administration

Media Credit: Grace Hromin | Photographer

At the event, Nikki Haley said the title of her book came from a comment she made defending her integrity while serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley discussed her work in the Trump Administration at Lisner Auditorium Thursday.

Haley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina who served as UN ambassador from January 2017 to December 2018, talked about U.S. foreign policy, her new memoir “With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace” and her experiences as a woman in politics. About 1,500 people attended the event, which was moderated by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and hosted by independent bookstore Politics and Prose.

Haley said people often ask her why President Donald Trump did not tweet negatively about her departure from the administration, as he has with other former officials like former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Chief of Staff John Kelly. She said she was “always very honest” with Trump and spoke up if she thought he was headed in the wrong direction on an issue.

“If I saw him making what I thought was a wrong decision, I’d call him and say, ‘I think this is a mistake, instead I think you should consider X,’” Haley said. “Didn’t mean I won all the time, but it meant he was open to listening.”

She said she recommended to Trump that he treat his first United Nations General Assembly address in 2017 not as a campaign rally, but as a serious event. She told him to think about the speech like he was delivering it at a church – to which Trump said “Church, got it” and then asked if he could refer to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as “rocket man.”

“I said ‘Sir, remember the part I said about church?’” Haley said. “I said, ‘I don’t know how they are gonna take but you are the president. If you want, do it, you can.”

In the address, Trump referred to Kim as a “rocket man” who was on a “suicide mission” for himself and North Korea’s regime.

Haley said she had to defend her integrity when White House staff characterized her as “confused” for saying on television that Trump wanted to impose new sanctions on Russia in April 2018. At the time, she responded, “with all due respect, I don’t get confused,” which is now reflected in the title of her book.

“The president can always change their mind, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Haley said. “I don’t fault him in any way of that. You can always kick with a smile, you don’t have to be hateful to get your point across.”

Haley said she disagrees with the idea of pulling U.S. forces out of Syria, adding that the U.S. military presence in countries like Syria and South Korea are preventative measures to keep the United States out of larger conflicts.

“I’m glad the president has decided to leave some forces there,” she said. “Hot spots like that, I believe we need to have a footprint. It doesn’t need to be a large one.”

Haley said she has experienced criticism from the left as an Indian-American Republican woman for not thinking or voting the same way as other women in minority communities. She added that the United States needs more women in power, whether they are Republicans or Democrats.

“I think the Republican Party needs to do a better job of voicing it when the left hit us to let them know that they can’t have the double standard of saying ‘Go women’ of their side and just bashing women on our side,” she said.

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