Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, hit back at the White House on Tuesday after a senior West Wing official said she was confused when she announced over the weekend that President Donald Trump would soon impose new sanctions on Russia.
“With all due respect, I don't get confused,” Haley said in a statement.
Haley’s terse quip came just hours after Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters that the ambassador suffered from “momentary confusion” when she said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would announce the sanctions early this week.
“She got ahead of the curve,” Kudlow said during a news conference in Florida. “She’s done a great job. She’s a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that.”
Haley’s response offered a glimpse of the growing tension between the White House and Haley’s staff over the handling of the messaging flap. It also marked a rare public rebuke of the White House from an administration official.
Haley has so far largely avoided the infighting that has taken down so many senior Trump administration officials. But Haley, who has taken a hard line on Russia at the United Nations, is now stepping squarely into the drama of the West Wing.
POLITICO reported earlier Tuesday that Trump signed off on the sanctions last week. But the president later changed his mind, and Haley wasn’t briefed on changes to the plan before announcing it on national television.
In the aftermath of Haley’s comments, Trump made it clear to his staff that he had no intention of imposing the new sanctions in the short term. The White House then scrambled to explain the conflicting messages, pinning the blame on Haley.