Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration, criticized Donald Trump in an interview published by Politico on Friday, saying that she was “disgusted” by the former president’s conduct Jan. 6 and believed he had “lost any sort of political viability.”
Haley, who is widely believed to be considering a run for president in 2024, also said that she does not think the former president will run himself.
“I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture,” she told Politico, adding, “I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”
Haley’s comments may cost her some support among Trump’s base, a constituency that will be important to any future Republican nominee and one that she had worked hard to avoid offending since leaving his administration in 2018.
But the Capitol riot last month and Trump’s role in inciting it appears to have been Haley’s breaking point. Her tone changed markedly between interviews with Politico in December and January. Initially, she refused to acknowledge that the former president was doing anything reckless by refusing to concede election defeat. She said that because he genuinely believed his defeat was rigged, his actions since November were not irresponsible.
She wrongly predicted that he would “go on his way” once his legal options were exhausted.
In the series of interviews, Haley then went on to say “he let us down.”
“He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him,” she said.
Haley’s remarks suggest that she has made a political bet that many other Republicans who have eyes on the White House have not: That Trump’s hold over the Republican base will loosen and he will not be the kingmaker many predict.
In contrast, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has ignored calls to apologize for advancing Trump’s voter fraud claims. Former Vice President Mike Pence has said nothing publicly since being forced to flee the Senate chamber Jan. 6 as pro-Trump rioters chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.”
Haley’s sudden pivot on the former president has left some liberal pundits and politicians skeptical. “It’s good to see @NikkiHaley has firmly taken both sides of the Trump issue,” Joe Lockhart, former press secretary to President Bill Clinton, said on Twitter. And Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the minority whip, told CNN that “This is an incident of Nikki Haley breaking with Nikki Haley. You have to wait and see whether or not this break means anything. “
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) February 12, 2021
JUST NOW: “This
is an incident of @NikkiHaley breaking with Nikki Haley….you have to wait and see whether or not this break means anything. “
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) February 12, 2021
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