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For Haley, it’s Team Nikki all the way

Haley isn’t just backing Trump, she’s plotting her own political future

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley discussed her new book on "Fox & Friends."
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley discussed her new book on "Fox & Friends."John Lamparski/Getty

In a recent Fox News interview, Nikki Haley said the author of “A Warning,” the scathing Trump presidency tell-all written by someone who self-identifies only as “a senior Trump administration official,” is “arrogant and cowardly."

Takes one to know one, Madame Ambassador.

While promoting her book, “With All Due Respect,” the former ambassador to the United Nations continues to champion Trump as an exemplary leader who has done nothing to deserve the ongoing impeachment inquiry that his relentless corruption and unconstitutional transgressions made unavoidable. And she’s singling out anyone who dares speak the truth about this rotting presidency, including this anonymous author who also penned a 2018 New York Times op-ed, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”


“It’s really offensive to me because, here, you’ve got a person hiding behind a curtain just throwing stones," Haley said in the interview. “I don’t know what the end game is.”

Haley’s end game, however, is much less opaque. She may sound like a Trump loyalist, but never get it twisted: She’s Team Nikki all the way.

Since leaving the White House nearly a year ago, Haley has kept a relatively low profile. She’s stayed away from Fox News and “Dancing with the Stars,” which have provided soft landings for the many of the Trump administration’s departed.

Then again, Haley has always seemed more likely to be practicing her stump speech than her tango.

Under the thin guise of a book tour, her stealth campaign is already underway, and you can believe her target audience in the Oval Office is paying attention.

Haley wants to be the first women president, and the first woman of color to claim the nation’s highest office. With a Republican incumbent, she’ll need to wait at least until 2024. But she’s certainly familiar with the stubborn rumors that Trump is considering replacing Vice President Mike Pence as his 2020 running mate, especially if his “very good brain” convinces him that a better choice would strengthen his re-election chances.


Don’t say that can’t happen. We’re talking about Trump here, who never met a political norm he wouldn’t attempt to pulverize. If asked, Haley would likely say yes. She wants whatever political boost she can get from Trump, and cradling his fragile ego is an easy shortcut to his capricious “good” side.

In the meantime, she’s accusing ex-colleagues like former secretary of state Rex Tillerson and former White House chief of staff John Kelly of undermining the president’s agenda by ignoring his most preposterous demands.

They "confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley writes in her book. That top-level cabinet members allegedly felt the need to resort to such measures isn’t what bothered Haley. It’s that they believed that "the president didn’t know what he was doing.”

Both men, especially Kelly, who proposed migrant family separations as a deterrent to undocumented immigration, are awful. They were also right — and Haley knows it. Instead, she wants Trump to believe that she was saving America from the people who believed they were saving America from the president.

Now she’s calling her former boss, a liar of epic proportions, always “truthful” with her. It’s worth recalling that, like her fellow South Carolinian, Senator Lindsey Graham, Haley was once a vocal Never Trumper. A few nasty tweets later, she flipped her allegiance and accepted the UN ambassador job because being South Carolina’s governor wasn’t going to give her the national boost she wanted for her grander political plans.


Some still want to believe that Haley is better than this. She’s not. She’s the same woman who defended keeping a flag of treason and racial intimidation flying on the state house grounds after a Confederate-flag waving white terrorist murdered nine African-Americans in a historic black Charleston church in 2015. Only after public opinion turned — and after activist Bree Newsome Bass’s bold removal of the flag — did Haley finally agree to take it down.

During her tenure in the Trump administration, Haley was often credited with being the adult in the room. That would be true if being the adult in the room means doing nothing while an arsonist takes a match to everything in his vicinity. Haley’s courting Trump’s base, dodging his Twitter ire, and mining her calculated cowardice as political capital.

For her book, Haley chose the subtitle, “Defending America with Grit and Grace.” She should have gone with “Defending Trump.” That’s if she wanted to be honest. Then again, like the president that she continues to serve, truth doesn’t stand a chance against her ambitions.

Renée Graham can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham.