Nikki Haley steps down as UN ambassador

She will remain until the end of the year

Photo: EPA US President Donald Trump (R) and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley shake hands in the Oval Office of the White House.

Nikki Haley abruptly announced her resignation Tuesday as US ambassador to the United Nations, catching staff and lawmakers off guard and leaving Washington guessing about the next move for one of the administration's most important figures. Speaking in the Oval Office alongside President Trump, Haley said she would serve through the end of 2018, as she preemptively sought to mute speculations she might challenge her old boss for the party's presidential nomination in 2020.

Haley called her time at the UN a "blessing," but offered no clear reason for leaving other than a belief that government officials must know "when it’s time to step aside" and that  it's good to rotate new government officials in from time to time. In her resignation letter, Haley also expressed that sentiment and again ruled out a 2020 run.

"I expect to continue to speak out from time to time on important public policy matters, but I will surely not be a candidate for any office in 2020," she wrote.
"It's been eight years of intense times," Haley also said of her time as governor of South Carolina and her time in the administration. "And I am a believer in term limits. I don't have anything set on where I am going to go."

Trump told reporters that Haley did "an incredible job" and is a "fantastic person." He said she had told him six months ago that she wanted to take a break "maybe at the end of the year."
"Hopefully you'll be coming back at some point, maybe in another capacity," he told her. "You can have your pick."

Axios, which first reported the news, reported that Haley discussed her resignation last week when she visited Trump at the White House. The outlet reported that the news shocked a number of senior foreign policy officials in the administration like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or White House National Security Adviser John Bolton since she hadn't informed them at all about her decision. 
Haley had been a critic of Trump during the 2016 Republican primary campaign but emerged as a key figure in his administration as she pushed the administration’s policy goals on Iran, North Korea and other items of international cooperation. The former governor of South Carolina was confirmed as UN Ambassador four days after Trump was inaugurated in January 2017.

Haley was a fierce critic of UN mismanagement and bias against Israel and the US. She secured cuts to the US contribution to the UN fund, and pulled the US out of the UN Human Rights Council -- calling it a "cesspool of political bias." She also secured an arms embargo on South Sudan, a goal that had evaded the Obama administration. Furthermore, Haley spearheaded the administration's push to increase UN sanctions on North Korea, a move that ultimately led to a de-escalation of tensions in the region and talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
"Now the US is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do," she said, citing a number of achievements of the Trump administration. "The US is strong again, it's strong in a way that should make all Americans very proud," she told reporters.
Asuccessor for the US's top diplomatic post at the United Nations in two to three weeks.
Trump has a working list of contenders to succeed Haley, but has not shared it widely with even the most senior White House officials. Among the names floated as possible replacements for Haley are: Trump's former deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and senior adviser and daughter of the President Ivanka Trump.
"We actually have many names," Trump told reporters on the South Lawn hours after the announcement.

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