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Nikki Haley really isn't "confused" about Russia sanctions

“With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
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A row erupted between Nikki Haley and the White House Tuesday after Donald Trump’s economic adviser claimed the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. had muddled her facts about new Russian sanctions. “With all due respect, I don’t get confused,” Haley pointedly shot back in a statement to Fox News.

The growing rift between Haley and the White House has played out in public over the past three days, after Trump reversed his decision to slap sanctions on Russia over its backing for the Syrian regime suspected of launching a chemical weapons attack in Douma.


Following Haley’s criticism, economic adviser Larry Kudlow issued a groveling apology, admitting he had been totally wrong.

Here’s how the drama unfolded:

  • Sunday morning: Haley appears on CBS' “Face the Nation” and “Fox News Sunday,” announcing new sanctions on Russian companies that facilitated the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program. She said they could be announced as early as Monday.
  • Sunday night: The Washington Post reports that Trump “instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet.” The story details a briefing where there were “a lot of curse words.”
  • Monday: The White House walks back Haley's statement, with the Post reporting that Trump told his national security advisers “he was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them.”
  • Monday night: Asked if Haley was misinformed, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley tells Anderson Cooper, “We just don't have the decision yet.”

  • Tuesday morning: Kudlow says Haley got "ahead of the curve" about the sanctions, adding there “might have been momentary confusion about that.”
  • Tuesday afternoon: Haley releases a statement responding to Kudlow: “With all due respect, I don't get confused.”
  • Tuesday evening: Kudlow told the New York Times he was “totally wrong” and had apologized to Haley. “The policy was changed and she wasn't told about it, so she was in a box,” Kudlow said.


The public spat between the officials is symptomatic of a wider confusion within the administration over how to effectively deal with the Syria crisis.

The U.S., alongside France and the U.K., launched a series of missile strikes on Syrian targets Friday, but it is unclear if Trump has a next move.

Earlier this week French President Emmanuel Macron said he had convinced Trump to stay in Syria and commit “for the long term,” but the White House later countered that its position on Syria had not changed.

READ: What just happened in Syria and what happens next?

Though it remains unclear what that position is, given that 10 days before Trump ordered the missile strike, he announced his intention to completely withdraw U.S. troops from the country.

On Tuesday lawmakers were given a classified administration briefing on Syria, but that only seemed to bring more confusion and worry.

“I am very unnerved by what I'm hearing and seeing," Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN. The South Carolina senator added that the briefing on the strikes made him more worried, not less, and that the administration is “going down a dangerous path” with regard to Syria.

Cover image: United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley listens during a United Nations Security Council emergency meeting concerning the situation in Syria, at U.N. headquarters, April 14, 2018 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)