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Florida Panhandle Braces for Direct Hit from Major Storm; Interview with Mayor Greg Brudnicki; Nikki Haley Resigns as U.N. Ambassador. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired October 9, 2018 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:00] BARBARA FRANKEL, VOTER FROM NEW YORK: -- any say in terms of our own bodies and what we choose to do.

RITA SMITH, VOTER FROM JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI: I think it's very important that we vote for those that are going to support President Trump and his agenda. Make America great again.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It was a big, big variety there. Post a video to Instagram telling us what's pushing you to the polls. You can use the hashtag #whyivoteCNN.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, top of the hour. Glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Any second now Florida Governor Rick Scott is expected to update us on preparations for Hurricane Michael which Scott is calling monstrous and in his words, the most destructive storm to threaten the Florida Panhandle in decades.

This morning, with a lot of warm waters still to cross, Michael grew to a category two. It's now expected to reach category three, that means 120 miles an hour by the time the center hits the coastline on the Panhandle or the Big Bend region tomorrow afternoon.

HARLOW: So look at this graphic because this is going to show you -- look at that -- all of these counties, all of them, under evacuation orders or advisories with just a few hours left for people and their pets to get out or stay put until it is over.

We are tracking Michael from every angle this morning. Let's begin with Chad Myers in the severe weather center with more.

So as Jim mentioned at the top, more warm water to go over and that's the concern about the acceleration into a category three.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's how it got where we are right now. That water near Cozumel is even two degrees warmer than what it's in, and that's why it just snapped into action. Now the good news is the Gulf of Mexico isn't very big. And so we don't have four more days to watch this thing turn into a cat-5. By the time we're talking about landfall, somewhere between about 24 and maybe 30 hours from right now, it's going to gather more strength, but just not as much as it could.

It still could be a cat-4, there's no question about that. You know, this 120 is plus or minus 10 percent. So keep that in mind. And so the direction is also 10 percent plus or minus east or west from Panama City.

So here's the storm in its full view, in visible satellite mode. 100- mile-per-hour storm, but the aircraft that's been flying through it did just find a 105-mile-per-hour gust. We'll see what they do with the storm at 11:00. So 120 miles per hour, afternoon tomorrow, making landfall somewhere very close to Panama City. It could be Apalachicola, it could be all the way farther to the left there, almost at Fort Walton Beach or Destine but kind of that area.

Remember, though, the right side of the storm is always the worst side of the storm. The left side, the winds are going to blow offshore. Now we do have winds getting to tropical storm force by tonight. 8:00 tonight, right there. And that's the last time you're going to be able to get over some of these bridges. So don't wait until morning when the winds are blowing 60 because they may not let you over.

Lots of power lines down. Widespread power outages with trees down, power lines down and a long time to actually get there -- get to put the power lines back up. Eight to 12-foot storm surge. What does that mean? Oh my gosh. 12 feet of water in your home. We're talking about places like St. Marks where the land is pretty low. All of a sudden, that water is coming up, coming up, coming up, slowly, slowly, slowly, and you need to be out of there.

Wind will hurt you, but water will kill you. So if you're anywhere near the water less than 12 feet above sea level, you need to go.

SCIUTTO: That's a great representation of storm surge.


SCIUTTO: Because I think it's hard for people to imagine. They've got to think 12 feet is kind of moving horizontally, but it's moving up.


SCIUTTO: Like this. That's two of me.

HARLOW: Over you.

SCIUTTO: Twelve feet. That's a lot of water.

HARLOW: Over your hour. Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Chad Myers, thanks very much. CNN's Dianne Gallagher, she is on the beach at Panama City Beach,

Florida. What are you seeing, Dianne? I can see the waves getting a bit rough behind you. But what are the preparations there like?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, really we're starting to see the wind kick up, too. We've had pretty a constant breeze that's kicked up in speed and in force over the past hour or so.

Preparation wise, the best news is that we're not seeing people out walking on the beach for the most part. We're seeing people pack up, leave hotels, right here along this strip of Panama City Beach. Those who are out here were watching sandbagging happening in condos. Now you can see the pier out here, farther out that you look, you can see some couples still walking around the shoreline.

Most people, though, are getting those last minute evacuation things in order, including a wedding. We actually had just within the past hour a couple, Benny and Cindy Quinn, who were supposed to get married tomorrow afternoon, right when Hurricane Michael is supposed to roll in here at Panama City Beach. They went ahead and moved it up so they can get inland. They're going toward Alabama now to begin their honeymoon. But they said look, they didn't have a choice, and that's the best thing that people here can do.

Move your plans up and get out. Chad just said the wind will hurt you, the water will kill you. That is what the people here in Panama City Beach are trying to make sure that everyone understands.

[10:05:04] Now we're dealing with fuel issues already. A lot of the gas stations are either low on or have run out of fuel overnight. They were expecting some shipments to come in to help with these evacuation procedures here, but look, the highway is getting off the island, you're going to expect long lines. Give yourself some time. The best way to do this, Jim and Poppy, is to get out now.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes. Good advice. Hope everyone heeds it. Dianne, thank you.

On the phone with us now is the mayor of Panama City, Greg Brudnicki. Thank you for being with us, Mayor. What's your biggest concern right now?

MAYOR GREG BRUDNICKI, PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA: Biggest concern now is that people are complacent for -- you know, because in the past we've had a lot of storms that were -- didn't really turn out to be much of a storm, and so they say, see, all these scare tactics.


BRUDNICKI: They said this, they said that, and look, nothing happened. And so you know, we're fortunate. And if nothing happens this time, wouldn't it be wonderful? But we have to prepare for the worst. And all indications are it has not gotten any better since last night, so it is going to get worse. And the storm surge is going to get to a point, the wind is going to get to a point that if people decide, well, I'm staying, and something happens to them, first responders will not be able to get to them.

So I'm not trying to fear-monger, I'm trying to let people know to be realistic. That if you -- that now is the time. The gas stations that were out of gas last night, they have gas today. I went by several of them. So now is the time. We asked people to leave at first light this morning. And we asked visitors yesterday so that it wouldn't clog up the roads for our constituents to go ahead and go.

So we want to keep people safe. Number one priority of government and the only way we can keep you safe is --

HARLOW: OK. Mayor --

BRUDNICKI: -- if you listen to us.

HARLOW: Mayor -- all right, Mayor.

SCIUTTO: Mayor, thanks very much.


SCIUTTO: We're going to stay on that story. We have some breaking news now just in to CNN.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

SCIUTTO: We're learning new details now. This just coming out as we speak. But reports that Nikki Haley, of course, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has resigned and that the president has accepted her resignation. This being reported by Axios first and we're waiting for response from the White House now.

HARLOW: Again, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has resigned. We're getting our reporters up on this.

Look, this is someone who was highly critical of the president during the campaign. But then when she took this post, she has been an ardent defender of the president, so much so that just last month, after that anonymous opinion piece was written about the president in "The New York Times," she wrote a separate opinion piece in "The Washington Post" lambasting them and said, "Look, when I disagree with the president, I take it directly to the president."

She wrote then, "I don't agree with the president on everything. When there is a disagreement, there's a right way and a wrong way to address it."

We don't know what it is that led to her resignation. Was it a disagreement? Was it something personal? Was it serving for two years and that being enough time? We don't know, but again, it's a huge development.

SCIUTTO: And to be clear, this is Axios that is reporting this, and that the president has accepted this. As we wait for comment from the White House, one of the areas of disagreement between the U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and the president, in public comments has been on toughness in the face of Russia.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Russian interference in the U.S. election, other Russian malign activities around the world.


SCIUTTO: In Ukraine and elsewhere. Nikki Haley has not been shy by any means about voicing those concerns in public from the seat, the U.S. seat at the U.N. Security Council.

HARLOW: Right. Right.

SCIUTTO: And elsewhere in terms that the president, that this president has not used, rarely if ever used to describe Russia and the Russian president.

HARLOW: Right. She --

SCIUTTO: Again, we don't know what the background about this, whether it was a disagreement or some other reason, but those public disagreements have been very clear cut.

HARLOW: Right. And look, she has stood behind the administration and the president on action when it comes to Russia. She will point to the sanctions that were passed unanimously in Congress and then signed by the president. But in terms of rhetoric, when she's sitting there at the U.N. with her counterparts, she will go further than the president will go on Russia.

SCIUTTO: And looking at the president's foreign policy, national security team, you know, to the extent that at any point you had something of a team of rivals here.


SCIUTTO: Folks in there with power and with the occasional -- taking the occasional option of disagreeing with the president in public, several of those have now left. H.R. McMaster, his National Security adviser.

HARLOW: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: Replaced by John Bolton, more in line with the president on a number of things. So from the view of the outside of the United States, you'll often hear from foreign diplomats among U.S. allies that people like Nikki Haley have made them feel more comfortable about their relationship with the U.S. on key national security issues.

[10:10:10] So as you see folks like that leave, you know that the reaction from others abroad will be a nervous one.

HARLOW: Yes. That's a good point.


HARLOW: Let's bring in our colleague, Mark Preston, with more on this.

And Mark, one other thing I was thinking of, you know, Nikki Haley has taken a lot of questions and heat from some about the president's comments on women. For example. And she being a very senior female in the administration, has stood by him. I have been at off the record events, you know, and background events hearing Nikki Haley supporting the president even in some of the most sort of dramatic times and moments of turmoil for the president.

What is your read on this and what are -- are you hearing anything about why and why now?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, so a couple of things. One is, I mean, to your point, it has shown how astute of a politician Nikki Haley has been. Certainly in these past couple of years of the Trump administration. She's been able to really walk that fine line and be able to address some of these very tough issues but yet not necessarily address them and be hypercritical of the president.

As Jim was talking to, when you talk about foreign policy issues as well, she's been very tough on Russia, but at the same time, it hasn't appeared as if she was breaking with her boss necessarily, maybe just reaffirming what the administration would like our allies to hear and not necessarily what President Trump said. But at the same time, she's also very young. She was not a Trump person initially. She supported Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, for the Republican presidential nomination --

SCIUTTO: Mark Preston, if I could just interrupt you there for a moment because this was first reported by Axios. I should now add that this has been confirmed by a White House official to CNN's Jim Acosta. So CNN now has the same reporting. Nikki Haley's departure, resignation, President Trump accepting that resignation.

But sorry, I interrupted you there, Mark. Go ahead.

PRESTON: Well, I just wanted to point out that she certainly was one of these folks who came into the Cabinet that was not a loyalist during the campaign necessarily. Of course when he became the nominee, by and large the whole party got behind President Trump. But she's not somebody that was necessarily by his side from the beginning.

Look, she's done her couple years. Perhaps she just wants to get out of the fire. You couldn't blame her for it.

HARLOW: Yes. You would have thought if that's the point, there may have been some indication or something leading up to this. Any sort of comments from the president or her. Two quick things. She's in the West Wing. We know that. Our colleague Anton (PH) is reporting that. She's in the West Wing. She walked by reporters who asked her, can you confirm you resigned? She did not respond to that. I think Elise Labott -- Mark, stay with us. Elise Labott is on the

phone with us as well.

Elise, can you hear us?


HARLOW: And Elise, you've interviewed Nikki Haley. You know this top to bottom. What can you tell us?

LABOTT: Well, look. Poppy, it comes as a surprise, I think, that she would do it now. We're so close to the midterms. And if anything, Nikki Haley is a Republican Party loyalist. She's a true conservative, and you know, her aides have said that she was constantly assessing what her role was in the administration. You know, she seemed to have the ear of the president in some ways. The president let her do some of the things that she thought were very important, like I went and traveled with her to Africa to visit refugees in South Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She also did the same in Syria and Turkey. She was very interested in U.N. reform and the president kind of let her take the ball with that. But at the same time, she disagreed with the president on other issues.


SCIUTTO: Elise, I'm going to -- I'm going to -- apologies for interrupting you here because we now have reaction from the White House to this.


SCIUTTO: Elise Labott, please stand by. Abby Phillip is at the White House.

Abby, what are you hearing from the White House?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jim and Poppy. At the White House here, we are expecting to see President Trump and Nikki Haley in the Oval Office shortly. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says they will appear together at 10:30 this morning in the Oval Office.

My colleague, Jeremy Diamond, just saw Nikki Haley. I think you just -- mentioned that on air. Just saw her in the West Wing. So she's in the building. She declined to answer any questions about her fate, but I think it's notable that if this is in fact the moment in which the president acknowledges her resignation, announces it to the world, it is a sign that they are trying to show a sign of unity or at least an amicable departure from this administration.

But I have to say, Jim and Poppy, this is an interesting time for Nikki Haley to make this decision. President Trump is coming off an extraordinarily good week. He just had a Supreme Court justice confirmed, just did his victory lap at the White House last night. Great economic news, but to be losing basically a cabinet level official at this stage in his administration, 28 days before the midterm elections, is something that I think will raise a lot of eyebrows here in Washington.

But we will hear and see from them, themselves, in just a few minutes, just in about 15 minutes. So reporters will be allowed in that room, according to Sarah Sanders.

[10:15:06] SCIUTTO: More than raise a lot of eyebrows. It will cause concerns. There are a number of foreign -- and apologize to our viewers here, as we look, we're getting messages on our phones, on our computers from folks reacting to this, because they're just digesting this. But the view from abroad but also from other national security circles here in the U.S. will be one of concern because they've seen Ambassador Haley as something of a voice of reason but also someone who is willing to stand up on key national security issues, particularly Russia, but not just Russia. Human rights issues, et cetera.


SCIUTTO: In a way that they have not consistently heard from the president himself.

HARLOW: It's a very good point. And on that point, as we bring Mark Preston back into this conversation, when it comes to human rights abuses around the world, where Nikki Haley has gone much further than the president, case in point, relevant today and this week, Saudi Arabia. She has called out publicly Saudi Arabia on human rights. The president did not choose to do that when it comes to the question of what happens to Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist. Right?

Also another area where she has previously broken with the president, you mentioned Russia importantly, in terms of going farther in rhetoric, is on sexual assault. You will remember back in December 2017 when the president's accusers were coming forward, she said all of the accusers, including the president's accusers, quote, "should be heard." Look at what the president has said in the past few days about Dr. Blasey Ford.

Now we don't know why she's resigning. I'm just pointing out areas where she has publicly disagreed with the president -- Mark.

PRESTON: Well, so a couple things. Right? One is look what you just went through, just think of the level of exhaustion you would have if you were a high level cabinet secretary, specifically one that often has to go to world leaders and try to walk back the comments, the statements, the remarks of the commander-in-chief of the United States. Not just her. We see this with Jim Mattis, sure, and same with Mike Pompeo.

Just an incredible exhaustion level. So the point is, we don't necessarily know why she's leaving. We would see certainly Cabinet officials leaving around this time. We saw Marc Short, who was not a Cabinet official, but he was a legislative affairs director.

HARLOW: Right.

PRESTON: Now a commentator here at CNN, but he left recently as well. Because you're going to see certainly some turnover in the administration. And she certainly has broken with him. We should note, though, in a couple high profile things she has stood by him. There was that anonymous op-ed in "The New York Times."

HARLOW: Right.

PRESTON: Where she came out and she was very forceful in her defense of him and said listen, if I have a problem with him, I'm not going to "The New York Times." I'm going to walk in his door. So that was one. And the second thing, of course, when you're talking about her, and you're talking about Donald Trump, is the U.N. speech. When he was mocked, right? He was laughed at during the U.N. speech, she came to his defense and tried to explain it away as, oh, they were laughing because they really enjoy his honesty.


PRESTON: So Nikki Haley has done a very good job of politicking, not only within the administration with the president but externally.

SCIUTTO: No question. Michelle Kosinski joining us now, our State Department correspondent.

Michelle, is there any sense of why at this time? This is catching a lot of people by surprise. Do we know about motivation here?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Right. Right. OK, so there's lots of speculation, obviously, and people that you talk to around Washington who know Nikki Haley, yes, some of them this morning are surprised. But there are others who say that this was a possibility. They knew that this could be a possibility down the road, so to them, it is less surprising.

What we don't know, though, is exactly what led up to this being right now, today, this morning. I was just told by a senior State Department official that she told her staff this morning. So that was the first that they were at least officially aware that now was the time that she was resigning. Remember, there was plenty of speculation that she was the author of that op-ed criticizing --

SCIUTTO: Speculation --


KOSINSKI: Of course.

SCIUTTO: And we don't know.

KOSINSKI: There's plenty of speculation out there. But as for hard answers, we expect to get those from the White House later on this morning.

HARLOW: And, Michelle, and in just minutes, we'll hear from them in the Oval Office.

KOSINSKI: Of course.

HARLOW: In 10 minutes, but, Michelle, as we wait for that, just walk us through how critical Nikki Haley has been for this administration in this post.

KOSINSKI: Well, I mean, you could say that all foreign policy really comes from the White House and that everything is dictated by the White House. But she has, as other guests have pointed out, I mean, she has been a constant booster for White House decisions. She's been outspoken in defending this administration. She's at times gotten a little farther out on certain issues than the White House has.

She's delivered these speeches that have been hard on other countries, and remember when she started in this position, she was calling out countries like Iran and Russia very forcefully.

[10:20:02] So she made a name for herself being forceful on these problems that the U.S. has been dealing with and being tough on other governments. But now --

SCIUTTO: No question. In a way that the president has not. Just adding this, I have been texting with congressmen on the Hill, both Democratic and Republican, and the one uniform response I have heard from them is surprise. They did not see this. They did not see this coming.


SCIUTTO: Elise -- I'm sorry, go ahead, Michelle. I did want to ask Elise Labott a question.

KOSINSKI: Remember, there was that time, too, that she got a little bit farther out than the administration on Russia sanctions, which did not seem ultimately to be her fault. She may have been given information and then released it before the White House was ready. But she then responded to criticism of her when the White House said that she was confused about this information.

It made headlines around the world when she responded that she doesn't get confused. So while she was a forceful defender of the administration's policies, she also wasn't going to take it when she felt she was taking the blame for something that was not her fault.

HARLOW: Right. The president has just tweeted. Let me read it for you. "Big announcement, with my friend, Ambassador Nikki Haley, in the Oval Office at 10:30 a.m.." Calling her his friend. Again, 10 minutes, we'll hear from both of them.

SCIUTTO: Elise Labott, big announcement. Let's not speculate as to what they're discussing here. Is it another role, perhaps? But Elise -- I'm sorry, Elise is not there.

HARLOW: Yes. SCIUTTO: But Mark Preston, if you're still there, how does this

change the president's National Security Team to lose a voice like this?

PRESTON: Well, I mean, externally, it's a big, big blow. In many ways, because we're alluding to this a little bit earlier, I mean, you have the likes of your Defense secretary and your secretary of State now and your U.N. ambassador who is constantly having to go overseas and to talk our allies off the ledge after comments that have been made by President Trump. And we have seen this time and time again.

So you know, not only is she having to worry about this whole new approach to government that Donald Trump has taken to Washington in a way that we have never seen before, but she's also having to fix these problems, these self-inflicted wounds that the administration does to itself and the president does to himself.

HARLOW: OK. Mark, stick with us. Nic Robertson is joining us as well. He's our international diplomatic editor and because she is such a face for the United States on the world stage. Are you hearing reaction from around the world?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: No, but I think it will be perhaps a little while before we do because governments and diplomatic channels will want to take a measured response and see who Nikki Haley's replacement is going to be. But if you look at the example of Britain, Nikki Haley's relationship with Theresa May, the British prime minister, earlier this year. She was a -- Nikki Haley was a welcome ally and a welcome voice for Theresa May at the White House because she wanted to see a stronger push on Russia.

She wanted to see sanctions from the United States on Russia for what Russian operatives were doing, poisoning citizens living in Britain. So you know, the Skripal poisoning, for example. So Nikki Haley played a key role there, and that was important to the UK. Somebody that could be relied upon to have a similar view to British officials. She was outspoken, if we look back in August on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, which became even more pressing during September with some bombings there of the Saudi-led coalition, killing Yemeni civilians.

That's despite the close relationship between President Trump, the White House, and the Saudi leadership at the moment. So Nikki Haley's voice has been one we can see from an international perspective, a little discordant with the views from the White House. So how will, for example, Theresa May's office respond? I think at the moment is really is going to be a wait and see what happens next. But the reality is, that's an ally gone, and you need to rebuild allies.

SCIUTTO: Well, one thing that is clear, I'm sure, Nic, you've had the same experience. When I have spoken to diplomats, politicians in countries, particularly in the east of Europe, on the front lines as it were in the conflict with Russia, that they will frequently cite comments from a Nikki Haley in support of them, with great strength and conviction, et cetera, as a confidence builder for them.

HARLOW: Good point.

SCIUTTO: Often at times when they have not heard similar statements and reassurances from President Trump.

HARLOW: Richard Roth is with us now who has covered the United Nations for decades, literally.

Richard, so your read and what you're hearing in the halls there?

[10:25:02] RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I haven't hurt the speculation that preceded me, but it didn't take long after Nikki Haley was in office that a major Security Council diplomat who sat with her at the table said she's a politician, and you don't often hear that from U.N. diplomats. So my sense would be as people start to get the news is they think that she's got her eye on bigger dreams than the U.N. ambassadorship.

She had just completed a very busy one month as the president of the Security Council, where she demanded that all the meetings of the council be held in the open, in other words, before cameras. That's not the way it's normally done. It did produce a lot of shouting and yelling and tensions again with Russia, and some say the U.N. should be more open, but a lot of diplomats felt things are best discussed behind closed doors.

Yes, Haley was the rock star, to use that overused term, of the U.N. and it will be interesting to see who might replace her, but Nikki Haley was on a rocket from South Carolina up to the U.N. she didn't attend every meeting. She didn't have to, but she definitely attended the major topics. She didn't really do the party circuit. It was the U.S. or forget it. I mean, Nikki Haley walked in the first day and said we'll be taking names which didn't go down that easily.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Yes, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Richard, let me -- sorry to interrupt you here. I just have a reaction from a diplomat at the U.N. to this, and I'll just read it as it comes in here. This comes as a surprise. Ambassador Haley has been a very strong and effective advocate for the U.S. She and the secretary-general have had a very strong working relationship which has avoided what could have been a breakdown of the U.S.-U.N. relationship.

That coming from a senior diplomat at the U.N. and that characterizes there what has been a real concern of folks at the U.N., other diplomats of U.S. allies where they have had real differences. And real concerns about weakening of American support for those alliances, NATO, et cetera.

HARLOW: I'm so glad you have all these sources and you're getting that. And that also comes at a time when the president has, you know, been very critical of the institution of the United Nations, et cetera.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Of funding that she was such a source of strength in that relationship.

SCIUTTO: Right. We should note that the president, via Twitter, has said that there will be an announcement at 10:30, just, what, three minutes from now.

HARLOW: We'll bring that in.

SCIUTTO: We're going to of course bring that to you live. He said he's going to be appearing alongside his now resigned U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley.

Abby Phillip, the president has tweeted this announcement. And that's it. Have we seen the ambassador arrive at the White House yet?

PHILLIP: We have seen her here. She did arrive at some point this morning. We saw her physically in the West Wing, not too long ago. And I think we'll expect to see them shortly because reporters are about to go into that room. It will be a little bit of a delay before we find out exactly what was said in there, but it is -- it seems to be happening about on time for this White House.

And I would note, also, Jim, it was interesting to see President Trump conspicuously using the word friend. Again, this is an effort by the White House to make sure that the optics around this are fairly positive, but of course we're going to be working our sources and trying to find out more details about what led up to this moment. And there's a lot of speculation going on but what we do know at the moment is that a lot of people were surprised and did not see this coming at this particular moment. But we will find out more about what they have to say in the next couple minutes I think.

HARLOW: In just minutes, and Mark Preston, I think knowing the Nikki Haley that we have all -- the world has grown to know in this post, she very likely may not, you know, dance around here in whatever comments she gives in the Oval Office. She said before I don't ever want to be a wall flower or a talking head. I want to be able to speak my mind. We know she's done that to the president. So are you expecting relatively direct answers in just a few minutes here?

PRESTON: I think we're going to hear glowing praise from Nikki Haley of President Trump and the administration, and everything that they have accomplished over the past couple of years. I mean, look, the fact that it's being done very quickly, we'll find out eventually why she has decided to go. She's decided to resign. Perhaps this wasn't as quickly as we thought. Perhaps it is, I mean, who knows, but I do think that the way that this is being staged right now by the president, the fact they're doing it together, says something about how they're going to part.

And let's say one thing about Nikki Haley. She may no longer be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, but again, she's very young and she's an unbelievable politician and has beat back the establishment Republican Party many, many times, which really made her steeled and certainly prepared her I think to go into this position with the Trump administration where she really was put in some very difficult situations. But she by and large stood her ground but did it in a way I think that was respectful enough to the president that we never heard very much criticism from the president about Nikki Haley as we have heard him to some of his top Cabinet folks.

HARLOW: That's true.

SCIUTTO: That's right.