Nikki Haley, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, announced last Tuesday that she will resign her position by the end of the year. This is the latest in a string of Trump appointees to do so. Here, Election Central examines what led Haley to resign, as well as who might be considered to replace her.
Born Nimrata Randhawa to parents from Punjab, India, Nikki Haley served as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives for six years (from 2004-2010) before becoming the first female governor of South Carolina in 2010. She was also the first Indian-American to hold political office in South Carolina, as well as the first female Indian-American to serve as a U.S. governor. Haley is a Republican, but as governor, she gained some support from Democrats by signing a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse. Haley also refused to support legislation requiring transgender individuals to use restrooms based on their biological sex rather than their gender identity (the so-called “bathroom bills”). Haley assumed her current post at the United Nations in January, 2017, and has served there as the U.S. ambassador since.
Haley’s resignation letter, dated October 3, talked about how honored she was to serve as UN ambassador, but that it was time for her to step aside. Though she was not specific about her reasons, many sources say that her financial status played a role in the decision. Haley has one child in college and another who is nearly college-age. It’s plausible that she left her government position in order to try to make more money in the private sector.
Other political experts, however, are suspicious that there might be more to the story. This is a surprising time for a cabinet member to resign: just weeks before a critical midterm election. Some suspect that the recent battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, which was difficult for many women, may have played a role. Also, the announcement of her resignation came one day after the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demanded that the State Department investigate Haley for possibly committing ethics violations by accepting seven free, luxury flights from South Carolina businessmen.
Still others have guessed that perhaps Haley resigned in order to run against Trump for president in 2020, though Haley has been quick to deny those rumors.
Unlike other Trump appointees who have resigned or been dismissed, Haley still enjoys a strong public relationship with the president. President Trump praised Haley last week for the good work she has done as ambassador. Trump also offered to leave the door open for her should she choose to return to his administration in the future. He even said that if she does, Haley can have the pick of any post she wants.
Trump has said that he plans to name Haley’s replacement in the next two to three weeks. He and his advisors are currently working through a list of possibilities. Among them are the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell; Dina Powell, Trump’s former deputy national security adviser; and the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump. Trump has stated publicly that his daughter would make an excellent replacement for Haley. However, Ivanka responded on Twitter to say that she will not be considered in the running.