Don’t Count Her Out (Or Believe Her)

Yesterday morning I was driving home from my barber intending to write a very different article about a group of topics when I caught the breaking news that Nikki Haley was resigning as UN Ambassador. My plans changed within the next hour. I have never trusted Haley and there is one thing I am sure of: she is not leaving to spend more time with her family. Let’s explore.

Trump turned the resignation into a photo op. He appeared with Haley who went out of her way to not only praise Trump (a pre-requisite to working in his administration) but also Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. I think Haley is quite a slippery political character but I hardly think she is of such limited cerebral ability as to have believed what came out of her mouth. Something didn’t add up; at least not on the surface.

For Trump it was another opportunity to divert attention from Russiagate. He did something similar with the Kavanaugh nomination and in fact extended it a few days with his “re-swearing in ceremony”. (At my house we changed the channel to HGTV.)

I think Trump’s grand plan at this point is to fire Jeff Sessions the day after Election Day or very soon thereafter. Lindsey Graham will be nominated to the AG spot. That explains Graham’s outburst at the Kavanaugh hearings that may well have saved the nomination. Graham has been promised the job; probably as he played golf with Trump who selectively counted his strokes. If you believe Trump shots in the 70’s you probably believe that Haley resigned to spend more time with family.

Senators are reluctant to oppose the Cabinet nomination of one of their own; Graham has been around for a long time and has many friends in the Senate. The biggest challenge for Trump will be getting nominees confirmed. Graham appears to be in a good position to clear that hurdle.

That leave Graham’s seat in the Senate open. Haley would be a natural choice to fill it. Henry McMaster is the current Governor of South Carolina and as such gets to name Graham’s replacement until the next statewide election in 2020. (Graham’s seat is up in 2020 anyway.) Haley is a natural choice especially since McMaster is politically beholden to her. That would leave Haley with a choice. She could either run for a six year Senate term of her own or she could run for the 2020 GOP presidential nod.

Haley clearly has her eye on higher office. The UN gig was a great resume builder. A stint in the Senate, (particularly if Mitch McConnell puts her on a choice committee or two), would enhance her political resume and put her up close and personal with many big money donors.

If Trump is still in office and/or looks strong she could opt for a Senate run – and the seat looks like a safe Republican seat – all the time keeping her sights set on 2024. If he is out of office or looks vulnerable she can challenge in 2020.

You ask what about all the nice words she said about Trump and his family. Haley is very much cut from the same cloth as Trump. She will say anything if she feels it will enhance her chances of achieving her short term political objective. Either can praise someone on Monday and vilify them on Wednesday. Remember Haley, who is ethnically Indian, only claims her heritage when she deems it convenient. If not she denies it.

My major takeaways are not to count Nikki Haley out of the 2020 GOP presidential sweepstakes and certainly don’t trust anything she says.

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