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Nikki Haley Resigns as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired October 9, 2018 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, guys.

Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

As they were saying, any moments now, we're going to be hearing from President Trump and Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She was announcing this morning that she's resigning her post. This breaking news coming as a shock to many from New York to Washington and beyond. Shockwaves through foreign policy establishment. Many have viewed Haley as a stabilizing influence in an often-tumultuous administration.

We have a lot to cover. We're waiting for the tape from the Oval Office to come in. And when it does, believe you me, we'll play it for you, what Nikki Haley says and the president says right now is very important.

CNN's Michelle Kosinski is at the State Department.

I want to begin at the White House with CNN's Abby Phillip.

Abby, what more can you tell us about what the president, what Nikki Haley are talking about in the Oval Office right now?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, in a few minutes, you'll see President Trump and Nikki Haley side by side, putting on a very positive face on this departure, talking about their mutual respect for each other. Nikki Haley telling reporters that she decided after two years in the job --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Abby, hold on one second.

Let's listen in to the Oval Office, the president and Nikki Haley.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- everyone. Before we begin, I'll just say that we're very well prepared from the incoming hurricane. We have another one coming, so we have done very well. North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, so many places. And we have another one coming, and a big one. Much bigger than they anticipated a week ago, seven days ago. I heard for the first time there was a very small drop of weather that looked like it was forming, and now it's pretty close to a category 3 if it's not already a category 3. We're well prepared. FEMA is ready. We're all ready. I spoke with Governor Scott, spoke to everybody that you have to speak to. And I think that hopefully we'll get lucky, but maybe that won't happen. But we're prepared.

I wanted to do this because Nikki Haley, ambassador to the United Nations, has been very special to me. She's done an incredible job. She's a fantastic person, very importantly, but she also is somebody that gets it. She has been at the United Nations from the beginning with us, from the beginning, and worked with us on the campaign. It's been really a long time, very intense. And she told me probably six months ago, she said, you know, maybe at the end of the year, at the end of the two-year period, but at the end of the year, I want to take time off. I want to take a break. She's been a very successful governor of South Carolina, for eight years. And then she did this, and this is possibly been more intense with what's going on in the world and very dangerous and a lot of things. But she's done a fantastic job. And we have done a fantastic job together. We have solved a lot of problems, and we're in the process of solving a lot of problems. At the beginning, North Korea was a massive problem, and now we're moving along. It's moving along really nicely.

I can speak for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He thinks the world of Nikki.

And so we're all happy for you in one way, but we hate to lose you. Hopefully, you'll be coming back at some point. But maybe in a different capacity. You can have your pick.

But I just want to let you know, so at the end of the year, Nikki will be leaving. And we'll be in constant touch.

I know that, when you have ideas, you'll call me because you know all the players. That was really the thing she did best at the United Nations. You know the players.

And that's the thing I think she did best at the United Nations. She got to know all the players. She got to know China, Russia, India. She knows everybody and on a first name basis, and they like her. Except for maybe a couple, which is normal. They can't all like you. But they do. They really like her, and I think maybe more importantly, they respect her.

So, Nikki, I just wanted to tell you we'll miss you. We'll be speaking all the time, but we'll miss you nevertheless. And you have done a fantastic job, and I want to thank you very much.

NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Thank you, Mr. President very much. Thank you.

I want to say, first of all, I want to thank the president for just, you know, allowing us to come out and talk to you this way.

It has been an honor of a lifetime. You know, I said I am such a lucky girl to have been able to lead the state that raised me and to serve a country I love so very much. It has really been a blessing. And I want to thank you for that. I'm most excited, look at the two years, look at what has happened in

two years with the United States on foreign policy. Now the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do. They know that if we say we're going to do something, we follow it through. And the president proved that. Whether it was with the chemical weapons in Syria, whether it's with NATO, saying that other countries have to pay their share. And whether it's the trade deals, which have been amazing. They get that the president means business, and they follow through with that.

[11:05:13] But then if you look at just these two years at the U.N., we have cut $1.3 billion in the U.N.'s budget. We made it stronger, more efficient. South Sudan, we got an arms embargo, which was a long time coming. Three North Korean sanctions packages, which were the largest in a generation, done in a way that we could really work towards denuclearizing North Korea. The Iran deal, bringing attention to the world that every country needs to understand you can't overlook all of the bad things they're doing. You have to see them for the threat that they are. I think you look at the anti-Israel bias and the strength and courage that the president showed in moving the embassy and showing the rest of the world we will put our embassy where we want to put our embassy. You know, all of those things have made a huge difference in the U.S. standing. But I can tell you that the U.S. is strong again. And the U.S. is strong in a way that should make all Americans very proud.

And I do want to say that it's not just the president I want to thank. The family, in general, the first lady has been nothing but very, very kind to me. I can't say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka. Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands. I mean, to redo the NAFTA deal the way he did, what I have done working with him on the Middle East peace plan, it's so unbelievably well done. And Ivanka has been just a great friend. And they do a lot of things behind the scenes that I wish more people knew about, because we're a better country because they're in this administration.

I also just have to say, certainly thank you to my family. Michael is a saint. And my two little ones, I adore them. And to team U.S./U.N. They sacrificed a lot. They put a lot of time and energy into it. But they have a lot of heart, and really wanted to make America proud.

And so with that, I'm not leaving until the end of the year. My goal is that we make sure that everything is in good place and for the next ambassador to come in. But it's a great day in the United States. And I'm proud to have been part of the team.

Now, I don't have anything set on where I'm going to go. I think that the main thing was I was governor for six years, and we dealt with the hurricane, 1,000-year flood, a church shooting, a school shooting, there was a lot, and then to do two years of Russia and Iran and North Korea, it's been eight years of intense time, and I'm a believer in term limits. I think you have to be selfless enough to know when you step aside and allow someone else to do the job.

So thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

HALEY: It's been an honor of a lifetime.

And I will say this. For all of you that are going to ask about 2020, no, I'm not running for 2020. I can promise you what I'll be doing is campaigning for this one. So I look forward to supporting the president in the next election.

BOLDUAN: So good.

Thank you, Nikki.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Ambassador, you list a long list of accomplishments. Why would you want to leave that all behind? Is it really a personal decision because you have been away from your family for so long or something else, too?

HALEY: You know, my family is very supportive. So no, there's no personal reasons. I think it's just very important for government officials to understand when it's time to step aside. And I have given everything I've got these last eight years. And I do think that sometimes it's good to rotate in other people who can put that same energy and power into it. So there really is -- a lot of people are going to want to say there's a lot of reasons why I'm leaving. The truth is I want to make sure this administration, the president has the strongest person to fight. It was a blessing to go into the U.N. with body armor every day and defend America. And I'll always do that. I'll never truly step aside from fighting for our country. But I will tell you that I think it's time.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, why make the announcement now as opposed to after the midterms?

TRUMP: Well, Nikki is going to be staying until the end of the year, which will be just about two years. And I just think, and I was just -- as Nikki was speaking, I was thinking when we came into office, it was almost inevitable in the minds of many that we were going to war with North Korea. If you ask President Obama, I'm sure he'll tell you that was by far his biggest problem when we sat and met right here. But that looked like a real problem. Iran looked like a real problem. It was a question of, when would they take over the Middle East prior to my coming here, and now Iran is fighting for their lives. They have riots and all their cities. It's blowing up. Their inflation, their economy is in tatters. And at some point, they'll probably come and want to make a real deal, not the deal they made, the ridiculous deal they made that was unacceptable to me. We'll see what happens. But what a difference between Iran when we first came, I would like to say the day before we came. And also if you look at North Korea, there was a deal that was something that was a devastating, a potentially devastating problem, and now the relationships are very good. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just left, had a great meeting. Also was in China. Also spoke to many of the Asian leaders or went there. And had some good meetings but had a really very good meeting with North Korea and Chairman Kim. And we have made a lot of progress, on so many other fronts also. I think the world, as Nikki said, the world is really respecting the United States again, much more so than they have in many decades. We are respected again, that I can tell you. Very much respected again. And people want to be on our side. Even if you look at the votes in the United Nations, votes that we would normally get no votes, we're getting very strong votes now.

[11:11:09] So I just want to thank Nikki, and I thought this would be an appropriate way of doing it. When you write it out on a piece of paper that Ambassador Haley will be leaving and you say nice things, people say, well, what's going on? This is the right way to do it. When you really think somebody has done a terrific job, I felt this was an appropriate way of doing it. We both liked it. So I just want to thank the ambassador. I just want to thank Nikki. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What are you thinking about a successor?

TRUMP: We have a number of people that would like to do it. It's a great position. Nikki realizes it. I think she's helped made it a much better position, if you want to know the truth. I think it's become maybe a more glamorous position than it was two years ago. I wonder why, but it is. I mean, she's made it a glamorous position. She's made it a more important, more importantly, a more important position. So we have -- I can almost say many people that want to do it, and they're very good people. I'll be talking also to Nikki about that and to the general about that and to my staff. But we have many people that are very, very much interested in doing it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You saw Secretary Pompeo. Are you frustrated by the lack of announcements that are coming --

(CROSSTAKL)

TRUMP: Not only am I not frustrated, I think it's incredible what's happening. You're talking about North Korea. It's amazing how the media -- who are you with?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Who?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: It's amazing the media says for 80 years they couldn't do a thing, and what are we, in three months of negotiation, it's ridiculous. As I said about 1,000 times, you have no rockets flying, no missiles flying, no nuclear testing. You have nuclear closings. Closing up different areas of North Korea. We're getting the remains back. It's already started, of our great heroes. We have our hostages back. I didn't pay $1.8 billion like the previous administration. We got -- I paid nothing. But I have agreed to meet. And I have agreed to spend time. But how long has it been since we left Singapore? It was three months or so. And people say -- that's the media saying like how could we be negative? He's done really well. How can we be negative? Are you disappointed with the speed? I think the speed is amazing. No nuclear tests, no rockets. And we have a very good relationship with Chairman Kim, which is very important. I like him, he likes me. The relationship is good. Mike Pompeo had a very, very good meeting. I spoke to him at length yesterday. And he'll be coming back. He'll be back tonight. And so, I mean, just the opposite. I think we made incredible progress. Beyond incredible. I don't think -- some of the press, some of the press really covers it accurately and right, but some of the press really doesn't.

Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you want to take this opportunity to tell us when your next meeting with Kim will be?

TRUMP: It's happening, and we're setting that up now. That was part of the reason Mike was going over to meet. They're setting up the meeting. And we'll be announcing that probably at a different location. Singapore was fantastic, but we'll probably do a different location.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mar-a-Lago?

TRUMP: He would probably like that. I would like that too, but we'll see. We're talking about three or four different locations. Timing won't be too far away. We made a lot of progress. This meeting really is -- you know, people don't realize the importance of the first meeting. We said, point number one, denuclearization. For some reason, the press doesn't pick that up. But that was point number one. They have agreed to denuclearization. They continue to agree. They continue. Now, we haven't removed sanctions, as you know. People said, what have we done? We haven't removed sanctions. We have very big sanctions. I would love to remove them, but we have to get something for doing that.

[11:15:10] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any chance the meeting could be on U.S. soil?

TRUMP: Well, you know, I don't want to embarrass anybody by asking. I think eventually we'll have lots of meetings on U.S. soil. And on their soil, by the way. That's a two-way street. On their soil also. I think that the country of North Korea is going to be a successful country. I think it's going to be incredibly economically successful. And I want to make it that way. I think it's going to be great. Other countries, other people, entrepreneurs, banks, they're calling, wanting to go there and wanting to invest. At some point when Chairman Kim makes that decision. I think he's going to unleash something that's going to be spectacular. Really spectacular. I think he knows it and that's one of the reasons we're having successful conversations. I think he wants to get on with it.

Yes?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Excuse me?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When will a successor to Ambassador Haley be named?

HALEY: When will a successor be named.

TRUMP: Oh.

I'll say we'll name a successor, I don't know, in the next two to three weeks. Maybe sooner.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, have you spoken to the Saudis about the missing journalist?

TRUMP: I have not. No, I haven't, but I will be. At some point.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you know at this point?

TRUMP: I know nothing. I know what everybody else knows, nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What's your response to Hillary Clinton saying last night's swearing in of Judge Kavanaugh was more a political event than a national event?

TRUMP: I guess that's why she lost. She doesn't get it. She never did. I knew that a long time ago. Hillary never got it. That's why she lost.

Anything else?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sir, midterms are in four weeks. What's your prediction right now for the GOP and how is your stamina out on the campaign trail?

TRUMP: I think we're going to do well. You people would say, I guess you saw if there was a 5 percent drop off, you would say there's something wrong with the president, you would say. But I'm going to Iowa tonight. We have a big, big crowd. Going to make a big announcement tonight, by the way, in Iowa. We're going to be making a very big announcement.

And I have to say, the farmers are so thrilled with the USMCA, the new agreement. I don't use the word NAFTA because NAFTA was a disaster for our country. We lost millions and millions of jobs, thousands and thousands of factories and plants and bad for farmers. You look at what happened. Farmers over the last 15 years, it's only gone down. Now they're going to go up. We opened up Mexico, we opened up Canada. It's great for our farmers.

But I'm going to Iowa tonight, and we'll be talking a little ethanol tonight. And got some great things planned.

And speaking of that, I will say, if you look at industries, the steel industry in this country is back like nothing I have ever seen before. In a period of six months since we started doing what I'm doing, the steel industry has literally revived. U.S. Steel is opening up eight plants. Nucor is opening up, the steel industry in our country is really, really hot. It's been really great. But I'll be going to Iowa tonight. (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How did Secretary Pompeo's meeting go?

TRUMP: Very well, very well. We have a very good relationship with China. They took out $500 billion out of our country for many years each year. We just can't let that happen. This should have been talked about by people in this chair for many years. Look, for years and years, they were taking out $200, $300, $400, and even $500 billion a year. We helped rebuild China. If we don't do that, China's not where they are right now. And that's fine with me, but we're not doing it any longer.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Sure, absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: One-hundred percent. If they do that --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: -- if they retaliate, what does retaliate mean? They already retaliated. They're taking out $500 billion. I think that's the ultimate retaliation. Now, look, China wants to make a deal. And I say they're not ready yet. I just say they're not ready yet. And we've canceled a couple meetings because I just say they're not ready to make a deal. We can't have a one-way street. It's got to be a two-way street. It's been a one-way street for 25 years. We have to make it a two-way street. We have to benefit also. OK? Thank you.

Any other questions?

So I just want to finish because this is really the pure reason for this is Nikki.

You have been fantastic. You're my friend, and on behalf of the country, I want to thank you for a great job. Thank you, Nikki.

[11:20:03] BOLDUAN: And with that, and with that, President Trump and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, announcing that Haley will be resigning at the end of the year, leaving her post at the United Nations at the end of the year, sending shock waves through Washington and the foreign policy community and beyond.

A lot to discuss, the why, the why the timing, and what now.

CNN's political director, David Chalian, is here with me now.

David, what did you think of that? What did you think of the timing, of the announcement?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I mean, full presidential treatment for a departure of a cabinet member. You don't see something quite like this. This is not how the other cabinet members who have left the administration since it began did not get this treatment. So I think what you saw there was that both President Trump and Nikki Haley saw advantage for themselves in having this moment, tying themselves to each other, both for the current moment and for their political futures.

The praise that Nikki Haley heaped upon the president, his vision, and his family, which was so interesting to hear her talk about Melania Trump and then at great length about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump as these behind-the-scenes masters and geniuses in the administration who go unnoticed. That plays right into the president's heart strings. There's nothing he likes to hear more than that. So she was effusive, as you said, Kate, in her praise of all things President Trump from his policy vision to his personal family. And that is not by accident. You heard her say, I know I'm going to get asked about politics. You're going to ask me am I running in 2020. And she endorsed the president and said, I'm going to be campaigning for this guy. Of course, that begs the question, what about 2024 when the Trump presidency is over because I have no doubt she's keeping her options open for a presidential run herself one day.

BOLDUAN: What's that one line they always say? They always say they're never running until they are.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Regardless, this points out something we have seen before, which is she has this unique position and has in the administration, which is the effusive praise, the great relationship that the president points out and says they have, but she's also been able to get away with saying things, criticizing the administration in a way that few others can.

CHALIAN: That is very true. She's been able to sort of brush the president back where she thinks he overstepped, but in ways that I think people inside the White House thought was advantageous for the president, to have this very prominent woman in the cabinet be able to sort of make it clear when she thought President Trump, whether on Twitter or in his comments or actions, has gone a step too far, that worked for them politically, which is why I think she was allowed that space. I also thought the president's use of the word glamorous here made my ear perk up. He clearly -- I can't imagine another cabinet member he would refer to as making their position more glamorous than the way he saw and talked about Nikki Haley in his comments there. He clearly holds her in unique regard in the cabinet. I think that was so clearly on display. And I think he's held her, as you noted, in unique regard in how he's allowed her to operate throughout her tenure in the administration.

BOLDUAN: David, stick with me if you will.

I want to bring in chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour for some more on this.

Christiane, what is the reaction going to be among diplomats, among international foreign leaders, among the international community to this really what, as we're hearing from sources, came as a shock to a lot of people?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I think we need to dial it down just a little bit and go back to history, which I did just to get acquainted with how shocking this is. There have been at least three U.N. ambassadors of the United States who have served one year. Let's say Bill Richardson, and also Thomas Pickering who served three. It's not that unusual, first and foremost.

Secondly, she said there's nothing to it other than I have done my eight years of public service, and I need to move on and do something else. And I remember back in the '80s, when then-U.N. Ambassador Gene Kirkpatrick stepped down and everybody was curious as to why. She said, look, it's not that I can't take the heat. I can take the heat. I just choose not to take any more of this particular heat at this particular time. So sometimes it is what it is on face value.

I think the rest of the world will react because they're not sure about who will come next. They like Nikki Haley. On the other hand, they have rubbed up against some of her sharper edges over the last couple years. She has been a very, very committed Trump loyalist, as she laid out in that back and forth with the president and with the press. And the president has benefitted from that. And he's appreciated that.

[11:25:02] On the substance of it, I think we have to be very clear. Yes, it's true that North Korea two years ago was a "who knows what's going to happen next" situation. The rhetoric and the nuclear tests and the intercontinental ballistic missile tests were dangerous. President Trump contributed to that danger by throwing back invective. He now says that was a negotiating tactic, and it's true that the tone has gotten much, much better. Absolutely no question. Before the summit, of course, Kim Jong-Un had stopped with his nuclear tests and his intercontinental ballistic missile tests. And up until now, we have nothing concrete from the North Koreans, nothing, nada. Yes, the tone has changed.

On Iran, Nikki Haley said look at the tone in Iran's behavior. Absolutely no change whatsoever in Iran's behavior other than the United States has pitted itself against its allies and other signatories to the Iran deal. No change in Iran's behavior in Syria, in the Middle East, elsewhere. President again saying that taxpayer money was spent by President Obama to get hostages back from Iran. Not the case. It was Iranian frozen assets that were spent to get them back. So there's all these kinds of things.

Making a huge deal about China and the sort of tariffs and trade wars on the very week that the IMF director has said this trade war with China threatens over the next year or two American economic growth and global economic growth. So look, you know, they are putting the best foot forward. Basically the rest of the world sees U.S. foreign policy as withdrawing from its traditional global leadership role and being now in a state of wanting to win rather than wanting to lead. So the United States is no longer a leader of alliances for the greater, you know, for the greater geostrategic agenda but it wants to win by scoring points, which is what the president has been doing, and which is what they talked about in the Oval Office today. BOLDUAN: And you well point out that others have had a tenure similar

to hers or even shorter. It's just we're definitely hearing from sources the shock, even within the White House and beyond, that this came when it did.

Christiane, thanks so much.

I want to get back over to the White House. White House correspondent, Abby Phillip, is there with more about the question of timing -- Abby?

PHILLIP Yes, Kate. It's not a surprise necessarily in this White House that people would be surprised by a departure. But we're hearing more and more from a lot of sources around this White House and in the White House that very senior people were not aware that this was coming. Some sources saying even President Trump was caught by surprise by the timing.

The timing here is significant. Some White House officials are questioning why Haley would choose to do this at this moment. The president has just come out of a major political fight involving a Supreme Court nominee who was accused of sexual misconduct, a time when we have been focusing in on the president's standing with female voters. We have seen so much anger from women,. And some folks are questioning the timing, saying that Haley doing this now naturally leads to questions about whether they are related.

Now, many of those people do not necessarily believe that this has anything at all to do with Kavanaugh, but they have questioned that timing. And despite what the president said, that she told him six months ago that she wanted to take some time off, there was no indication that the moment that she would submit her resignation would be right now. I think it puts them in a tough position, not only for the Kavanaugh reason, but also, we're four weeks away from a midterm election. Women could be a crucial bloc of voters. Republicans are doing very, very poorly with right now compared to Democrats. The gender gap is widening as we speak. Some people in this White House are questioning whether the political timing of this was good for both President Trump and for Nikki Haley.

But at the same time, what you did see in that Oval Office spray was Nikki Haley making it very clear that she was going to be out on the campaign trail for President Trump in 2020. She was not abandoning him. And that's important not just because it shows that she supports President Trump but it also shows that she's going to continue to cultivate her own political image. I think a lot of people are seeing Nikki Haley, who has long been viewed as a rising star in the party, working even at this very moment to preserve and even burnish her own political credentials as she prepared to step aside.

BOLDUAN: Abby, thank you so much, from the White House.

Let me get over to CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Gloria, on the why, why leave, why leave now, Haley didn't -- to me, it didn't seem like she shed much light. She said it's not for personal reasons. I'm a believer in term limits, essentially. What are you thinking?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm thinking we don't know the reason she's leaving. Our colleague, Dana Bash, is reporting there could be financial reasons here, that she wants to make money, that she has two college-aged kids. You know, we don't know exactly what her relationship with Donald Trump is, these days, although he did go out of his way to praise her. We know the timing of this is sort of strange, given the fact --