Nikki Haley resigns as UN Ambassador: Trump’s first challenger in 2020?

United States Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley has resigned from her position; expected to leave office later this year.

In a press conference in the Oval Office, the decision was announced, with Trump stating that she is taking ‘a little time off’.

Mr Trump had stated that he accepted her resignation and a replacement is expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

The resignation came as somewhat of a surprise, although given America’s erratic relationship with the United Nations since Trump came into office it is perhaps not a surprise.

America has withdrawn from the human rights council and has taken a back seat in its joint ventures with United Nations partners, notably slashing the budget for Palestinian Aid programmes, to which the United States was a principal contributor.

This has largely diminished the role of the United States within the UN and has limited Haley’s role as an ambassador, a cause cited amongst commentators for her surprise resignation.

Mr Trump stated that he had known about Haley’s intent to leave her post for some time – perhaps ‘six months’ – but went on to state that hopefully, she could re-join the administration later.

Her time in the UN has seen several clashes with the president, often taking a harder line than Mr Trump on philanthropic issues.

Haley criticised dictatorships and human rights abuses on a number of occasions but was consistently undermined by the president, with Donald Trump infamously calling her ‘confused’ after he backtracked on Russian sanctions she had earlier announced.

Trump’s suggestion that she re-join the administration at a later date was met by laughter from the outgoing ambassador, sparking speculation that she may be planning to launch a bid to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020.

Nikki Haley rebutted these claims, suggesting that she would campaign for Trump in 2020, but the timing seems to indicate a possible wish to run in the next presidential cycle, especially given rumours that she would run in the past.

Such announcements of outgoing administration officials are rare so close to an election and with the mid-terms next month, many have suggested her wish to leave is not the long-term decision that the president wished to suggest.

Her decision supposedly being made earlier in the year and the fact that she is set to remain in post until after the November 6 mid-terms makes the timing of an announcement is a curious decision which has only fuelled speculation of a White House in disarray.

Leaving just 27 days before an election will promote the image of acrimony behind the scenes and suggest that Trump’s assertion that the decision was made months ago is far from the truth.

The decision to announce now clearly hints towards Haley springing her resignation on the administration, wishing to damage the reputation of the White House, whilst the time off she is supposedly taking clearly hints at preparations for a run at the Republican nomination, with the primary season set to kick off in late 2019.

Given that many front-runners on the Democratic side such as Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris already seem to be signalling towards an announcement of their intention to run, it seems clear that Haley’s resignation is angling her to do the same on the GOP side.

Haley’s recent Washington Post op-ed, outlining her disagreements with the president, alongside her admiration for the administration as a whole, has largely fuelled speculation that she was behind the anonymous New York Times piece, which outlined a resistance faction inside the administration that aimed to curtail the worst impulses of the president.

If Haley was indeed behind this piece, it is the clearest indication yet that she will challenge in 2020.

Before becoming UN Ambassador, she spent six years as the Governor of South Carolina before leaving to join the Trump administration, despite being a vocal critic of Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign.

Mr Trump has suggested that former George W. Bush official and key Trump aide, Dina Powell, is currently under consideration to replace Haley, largely shooting down speculation that he would appoint his own daughter, Ivanka Trump, to the role.

An exact date for an announcement of Haley’s successor is yet to be set and it is still unclear as to exactly when she will leave the administration.

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