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Nikki Haley fires back at the White House over Russia sanctions

"With all due respect, I don't get confused."

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. CREDIT: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. CREDIT: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, denied the White House claim Tuesday that she’d gotten confused as to whether the Trump administration would impose new sanctions on Russia.

Earlier in the day, national economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that Haley had gotten “ahead of the curve” on the imposition of new sanctions. “She’s a very effective ambassador,” he said. “But there might have been some momentary confusion about [the sanctions].”

Kudlow went on to claim that one set of sanctions had already been decided on, and additional ones were “under consideration but not been determined.”

In response, Haley said in a statement, “with all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

Kudlow then backtracked and said that “the policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it, so she was in a box” — which would imply that the Trump administration’s U.N. ambassador was being kept out of the loop on major foreign policy decisions.

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On Sunday, Haley had announced that additional sanctions against Russian companies, banks, and equipment suppliers with ties to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons program would be imposed. The action came in response to an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma which left at least 70 people dead.

“With the political and diplomatic actions that we’re taking [against Syria] now, we wanted their friends, Iran and Russia, to know that we meant business and that they were going to be feeling the pain from this as well,” Haley said at the time. “You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down. Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday, if he hasn’t already.”

But on Monday, the Washington Post reported that Trump was angry that the sanctions were being rolled out before he was comfortable announcing them. One White House official said that Haley had “made an error that needs to be mopped up.”

The decision by the Trump administration to delay additional sanctions against Russia comes just one day after former FBI Director James Comey sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos and claimed that it was “possible” that Russia had compromising material on Trump.

And this isn’t the first time the Trump administration has tiptoed around Russian sanctions. After former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned in the U.K. with a nerve agent, along with his daughter, the Trump administration spent days avoiding the issue — despite British Prime Minister Theresa May presenting conclusive evidence of Russian involvement before Parliament. One of the few voices going against the White House’s tepid stance was Nikki Haley.

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“One member stands accused of using chemical weapons on the sovereign soil of another member,” Haley said during an emergency meeting of the UN security council in March. “The credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.”