On July 7, Donald Trump said “nobody really knows” whether Russia meddled in the American elections. On July 9, Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, said “everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections.”
Everybody, apparently, except her boss.
Soon after, Haley reflected on Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and said the American president wanted to look Putin in the eye in order to “let him know that, ‘Yes, we know you meddled in our elections. Yes, we know you did it, and cut it out.’” Trump then pointed in the opposite direction, suggesting he was satisfied with Putin’s “vehement” denial of wrongdoing.
All of this came to mind again yesterday, when Haley contradicted her boss on the issue once more. Politico reported:
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Thursday that interference in U.S. elections by another nation “is warfare,” telling an audience in New York that such meddling has become Russia’s go-to tactic. […]
“I find it fascinating because the Russians, God bless ‘em, they’re saying, ‘Why are Americans anti-Russian?’ And why have we done the sanctions? Well, don’t interfere in our elections and we won’t be anti-Russian,” Haley said Thursday. “And I think we have to be so hard on this and we have to hold them accountable and we have to get the private sector to understand they are responsible for this, too. We all have to step up from this event.”
It’s as if Haley is working in an entirely different administration – because as far her boss is concerned, there’s no reason to believe Russia did anything wrong at all.
Indeed, Haley referenced the importance of economic sanctions on Russia, neglecting to mention the fact that the administration in which she serves was supposed to implement that policy weeks ago, but hasn’t.
As we discussed a while back, Haley and the president often fail to stay on the same page. On U.S. policy towards Syria, for example, Haley’s stated line was largely the opposite of what we heard from other leading Trump administration officials. A month earlier, when the president dismissed the need for a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, Haley said the exact opposite a day later, telling reporters, “We absolutely support a two-state solution.” Even Haley’s line on U.S. policy towards Venezuela also contradicted Trump’s State Department.
But the Russian espionage operation against American elections was the most serious attack on the United States since 9/11, and by all appearances, Trump and his U.N. ambassador don’t even agree on the basics of what happened.