U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared on Fox News this morning and accused former Secretary of State John Kerry of engaging in “anti-American” activities. It was the latest in the Trump administration’s offensive against Kerry for his occasional interactions with foreign diplomats, including Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif.
When a leading U.S. official throws around phrases like “anti-American,” especially when targeting a respected figure like Kerry, it’s unsettling for a reason. Making matters worse, of course, is the fact that Kerry doesn’t appear to have done anything wrong. (If Haley is genuinely interested in real examples of Americans interfering with delicate diplomacy with Iran, I have a great story about Tom Cotton she might find interesting.)
But just as odd was Haley’s explanation for diplomats laughing at Donald Trump during his remarks to the General Assembly yesterday.
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said Wednesday that world leaders who laughed during President Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations did so because “they loved how honest he is.” […]
“They love that he’s honest with them and they’ve never seen anything like it, so there’s respect there,” she said. “I saw that the media was trying to make it something disrespectful. That’s not what it was. They love to be with him.”
Look, I realize people in the president’s orbit feel the need to be sycophantic toward him, if for no other reason than to protect their job security. This is especially true when it comes to officials appearing on “Fox and Friends” – a program Trump has been known to effectively live-tweet.
Haley must’ve known that her boss was watching, so she wasn’t in a position to be candid about foreign diplomats’ opinions of the controversial American leader.
But that hardly justifies the ambassador’s rhetoric.
World leaders love “how honest” Trump is? Not to put too fine a point on this, but the American president lies at an almost uncontrollable pace, which has not escaped foreign officials’ attention. In fact, when international officials started laughing at his remarks yesterday, it was because Trump was arguing at the time that his administration “has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country” – a claim that’s plainly false.
It was one of several rather obvious lies the president repeated during his speech, which makes it rather foolish for Haley to say with a straight face that diplomats “love that he’s honest with them.”
As for the assertion that international leaders “love to be with” Trump, that may be true of assorted authoritarians – Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un certainly seemed to enjoy their recent visits with the Republican – but as those who watched the latest G-7 and NATO summits can attest, our allies’ interactions with Trump don’t appear to fall under the rubric of “love.”