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Nikki Haley: I don't get confused

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley responds to Trump aide Larry Kudlow's remarks that she got ahead ahead of herself in announcing new sanctions on Russia. CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 4:59 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2018 4:59 PM

I'm not prone to cry sexism, and I don't do it often or lightly.

But there's no other word to describe the way President Donald Trump and his advisers have treated a woman who is arguably his strongest, most competent and effective Cabinet official.

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, was not only hung out to dry by the Trump administration, she was then dismissed and head-patted by an old boys' club Trump adviser who thought he could. And it was shameful.

Haley said over the weekend that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would be announcing new sanctions on Russia for aiding in Syria's suspected chemical attacks on civilians.

"You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down," Haley said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday, if he hasn't already."

It was something she had said earlier on Fox News. And it was specific -- Mnuchin on Monday.

Clearly, Haley didn't invent this idea out of thin air.

In fact, the White House reportedly told surrogates Saturday that sanctions were coming.

"We also intend to impose specific additional sanctions against Russia to respond to Moscow's ongoing support for the Assad regime, which has enabled the regime's atrocities against the Syrian people," said a document distributed by the Republican National Committee.

And the Russian newspaper Kommersant published a report that Sunday claiming Jon Huntsman Jr., the US ambassador to Russia, had also delivered a formal letter to Moscow warning of impending new US penalties over "support of the Syrian regime," according to NPR.

And yet Monday came and went with no sanctions.

So, when it came time for White House officials to answer for this, instead of shouldering the obvious blame for poor communication with one of Trump's top officials, or admitting they had simply changed their minds, they threw Haley under the bus.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration was "considering additional sanctions on Russia," but that a decision hadn't yet been made.

And two senior administration officials told CNN on Tuesday that Trump had not signed off on the new sanctions and suggested that "Haley must have walked away from a Friday White House meeting about the sanctions having misunderstood how firm the plans were."

Then came Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser.

"She got ahead of the curve," he insisted before offering, "She's done a great job, she's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that."

Yes, it's Haley who was confused.

Kudlow was sure to point out who really knew what was going on.

"But if you talk with Steve Mnuchin at Treasury and so forth, he will tell you the same thing -- they're in charge of this -- we have had sanctions. Additional sanctions are under consideration but not implemented," he added.

The whole spectacle was not only embarrassing for spotlighting the lack of organization among the men running Trump's bumbling White House, but for its naked attempt to deflect that by making it all Haley's fault for getting, like, confused and stuff.

Fortunately, Haley was quick to put Kudlow and the rest in their place: "With all due respect, I don't get confused."

It was the perfect rebuttal, only I'd have left out the respect bit. They don't deserve hers because she clearly doesn't have theirs.

And that's odd. Because while Kudlow and the rest are running around trying to clean up after whatever inane thing the President's just tweeted, or to make actual policy decisions that don't contradict one another, or to keep all the scandals straight, Haley's taking on global terrorists like Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad with tougher language than Trump's ever mustered. She makes her male counterparts look like scared schoolboys merely playing at government.

It gets even more pathetic, if you can believe it. According to a report in The New York Times, "Mr. Trump has grown suspicious of her ambition, convinced that she had been angling for (former Secretary of State) Mr. (Rex) Tillerson's position and increasingly wondering whether she wants his own job."

What children. I, for one, hope she is looking to run for president in the near future. It would be nice to have someone with balls, er, brains, in the White House.

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