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At This Hour

Nikki Haley Resigns as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N; Who Will Replace Nikki Haley; Hurricane Michael Warning from Florida Governor; Evacuations in Florida Ahead of Hurricane Michael. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 09, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: 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 that you're heading into a midterm election. And as Abby was just saying, you know, there's a huge gender gap in this country, and you have a very visible woman in this administration deciding to leave at this particular time, even though it's not in effect until January. So we don't really know why other than her reason, which is I think people ought to limit themselves in jobs. But that doesn't sort of explain everything to me. I don't know if it does to you. But it really doesn't.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Gloria, Jamie Gangel pointed this out, and I found it's an important thing to note. You heard President Trump say, he said something to the effect when they were speaking that some six months ago, Nikki Haley came to him saying that -- brought this up. But if that's the case, I find it near impossible that it would come as such a surprise that we're hearing from folks now. Do you?

BORGER: Right, and that it would come as a surprise to the secretary of state or Bolton or anybody else. You know, in other words, if this were sort of a well-oiled thing, it might have gone off a little differently. I sort of maybe she raised it six months ago. I mean, that's completely possible. But the timing of this, I think, is something that's quite interesting, that we really have to dig on.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Gloria, stick with me.

Let me go to CNN global affairs analyst and staff writer for the "New Yorker" Susan Glasser.

Susan, she pointed out, Nikki Haley, when she was speaking, she had a lot of things she wanted to say about what she says they have accomplished in her time there. What do you think the lasting impact of that is? What do you think of this?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It was interesting to hear her roll off what she perceives of accomplishments of herself and the Trump foreign policy team. You almost gault a sense of whenever the Nikki Haley national campaign is that she's road testing some of those themes that we'll hear from her later on. It's a very hawkish view of Trump foreign policy, a nationalistic view. She said interestingly at the end of her remarks, when we decide to have our embassy when we want, we'll have it wherever we are. There was perhaps no more pushback on her than President Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. That was something that her fellow ambassadors at the United Nations were very unhappy about. She had to defend that.

I think it's interesting to hear her pushing what I see as an emerging Republican foreign policy theme, which is a new nationalism. And you know, she saw it first-hand at the United Nations, having to defend some of President Trump's more controversial moves. while ignoring to a certain extent some of the views he doesn't agree with. She pushed him to withdraw from the Iran deal. She touted that. She touted tough sanctions on North Korea. At the same time, there's this diplomatic opening. She touted the move to Jerusalem for the embassy. So I think you'll see her as a very hawkish figure, whether she runs in 2020 or not.

I do agree with David Chalian that the purpose of this photo op seemed to be to preemptively come out and say. no, there's not a public break with President Trump and I'm not running against him in 2020. Now, she didn't say what happens if for some reason he doesn't run for re- election in 2020. She didn't really address her own future political ambitions in any way. But I think even her fellow ambassadors at the U.N. have seen her as a very political type of appointee at the United Nations.

I, like others, found her comments about Jared and Ivanka to be really eye-popping. When she talked about Jared Kushner, by the way, as a very overlooked genius, which was a fascinating praise to lavish on the president's son-in-law. Unprompted. It suggests either she's interested in her future political alliances or perhaps she wants to signal that these are the folks she was working with most closely inside the very faction-ridden administration. You didn't really hear her giving a shout out, for example, to national security adviser, John Bolton, who now will have much more, I think, of a free hand to really set U.S. policy toward the U.N. He's a big skeptic, as you know, of the United Nations, from his previous time in government, often looking for ways to undermine or go around that international institution. You have to wonder if that was one of the dynamics driving this foreign policy team.

[11:34:47] BOLDUAN: Really interesting points, Susan. Thanks so much.

Everybody, stick around.

We have much more to come on the breaking news. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announcing she'll be resigning, leaving her post at the end of the year. That begs the question, who will replace her. President Trump says he'll announce it in two or three weeks. We'll discuss.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Back covering our breaking news. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, announcing today she's resigning her post -- she'll be levering at the end of the year -- in a lengthy Oval Office meeting and public press statement to the press just now. Another shake-up amongst the inner circle, the cabinet for President Trump.

With me right now, CNN global affairs analyst, Max Boot, author of the new book out today, "The Corrosion of Conservatism, Why I Left the Right."

Max, you called this a sad moment. Why is this a sad moment?

[11:39:56] MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think Nikki Haley was generally seen as one of the grown-ups in the Trump administration. Someone who was a very skillful politician, able to get along with President Trump and also to cultivate a separate identity. And you know, Kate, thinking about Nikki Haley and what she represents, I'm going back to a picture that flashed all over the world in 2016, right before the South Carolina primary. A photo of Nikki Haley, Indian-American woman, Senator Tim Scott, African- American, and Senator Marco Rubio, Latino-American. And this was at a point when Nikki Haley had endorsed Marco Rubio and said Donald Trump was basically unfit to be president. I think there was so much hope at that point, this was going to be a new Republican Party, remade by minorities, by women, a new generation of leadership, more progressive than Republicans in the past, and all that hope was shattered when Donald Trump came along and took over the party. And Nikki Haley, I think, has been one of the survivors who has been very skillful in negotiating the shift away from the kind of Romney-esque Republican Party to a Trump Republican Party, and she's pulled off the unlikely feat of maintaining her own reputation for integrity and independence without alienating Trump in the way other office holders, like Rex Tillerson had done. My hat's off to her, and we'll have to see what the future brings for her.

BOLDUAN: I want to get your take on who would be a good fit to replace her now. That's clearly a huge question. The president says in the next two to three weeks he'll announcing who it is. A contender, and there will be so many names thrown out and people pushing many causes, but one of the contenders is Dina Powell, the former deputy national security adviser, a close ally. Became well liked within the administration before she left. Do you think she would fit the bill?

BOOT: I think somebody like Dina Powell would be a great choice because, again, she's seen as a more moderate mainstream conservative. I suspect there will be a battle in the administration over this because John Bolton is the national security adviser. He's a former acting U.N. ambassador. And my speculation would be that would be perhaps part of the reason why Nikki Haley is leaving is because her role has been squeezed down. In her first year in office, Rex Tillerson was the invisible man, so she was sort of the spokesperson for the U.S., the role of the secretary of state traditionally takes on. And you had a national security adviser in H.R. McMaster who gave her running room. Now Bolton and Pompeo are much higher profile, much harder bureaucratic fighters. And Bolton in particular, I think, is exerting his will in terms of U.S. policy towards the U.N. He's on a jihad against the international criminal court. He loathes the U.N. I suspect he'll want to put somebody into that office who will mirror his hardline unilateralism, anti-nationalist views, whereas, Dina Powell would be somebody more on the Nikki Haley lines, more moderate and more acceptable to the rest of the world. This will be an interesting test of where the balance of power lies within the Trump administration.

BOLDUAN: And an interesting test when it comes to confirmation. It could be a whole new world in November --

BOOT: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- and beyond, when this would happen.

BOOT: Right.

BOLDUAN: Max, stick with me.

I'm going to bring in Andre Bauer, CNN political commentator, former lieutenant governor of South Carolina. He ran and lost to Nikki Haley in the 2010 South Carolina primary for governor.

Andre, thanks for coming in.

I want to get your reaction to this announcement. Nikki Haley said that this is not for any personal reasons. She just believes in term limits.

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, she had served both -- but that's not true. I'm not buying it. Here's why. She is one of the most calculating, methodical, and best candidates for the next president of the United States. She hits all of the buttons. She has done a phenomenal job at the U.N. But I was actually offered an ambassador post at the U.N., accepted it, and then she was able to block it. Just in the last month and a half, her assistant chief of staff has been appointed to that post. So if she were leaving, why would she be putting her own assistant or deputy chief of staff, Austin Smith, in a U.N. position? It doesn't make sense, it doesn't add up. Nikki Haley loves being in public office. She's been there since 2005. She's done an outstanding job at every post. And she's a bright shining star of the Republican Party and very well could be the next president of the United States and the first female. There's some reason. Why so abruptly would you leave? Why -- it's not adding up.

BOLDUAN: Some of the reporting -- I'm seeing some reporting from Dana Bash that a consideration is financial reasons. She has two kids. She has one child in college, another heading there soon, and she felt like she needs to make some money. That's one real consideration that Dana Bash has some sources telling her. What do you think about that?

BAUER: There's some possibility to that. Actually, she was almost given the ambassadorship to India, but because it's so expensive to be an ambassador there, that didn't end up working out, and then she actually worked to get the U.N. position. And actually, in her -- to give her another accolade, she worked it to be a cabinet post. She was smart in how she orchestrated the deal and negotiated it early on, and I give her accolades for that. I haven't always seen eye to eye with her, but I'll give her her strong suits. Maybe that makes sense. She's at an all-time high. She could get an unbelievable position right now and then get ready and poised for 2024.

[11:45:30] BOLDUAN: Andre, thank you for coming in. I appreciate your insight on this. Thanks so much.

Let me jump over. Joining me on the phone is John Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Ambassador, can you hear me?


BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for jumping on the phone.

Your reaction to this announcement from Nikki Haley today.

NEGROPONTE: Well, I think I share some of Max Boot's disappointment. I think she did do a good job. She was a quick study. She was good and quick on the repartee. She represented us extremely well. In the arena there of the United Nations, which is a little bit of a fish bowl, so she was in the limelight a lot of the time, and she was always extremely well spoken.

I don't know her reasons for leaving. The idea of leaving for financial reasons resonates with me. I sent five of my kids through college on a U.S. government salary, and a little bit of money I inherited from my mother, and I tell you, it works to great hardship. If she was leaving to take some remunerative position, that wouldn't surprise me. But she's very young. I'm sure we'll hear from Nikki Haley again.

My last point would be nine of the permanent representatives of the United States to the U.N. since the end of World War II were politicians. People like Henry Cabot Lodge, George Bush, Daniel Moynihan, William Scranton, Andrew Young, Phil Richardson, and no, of course, Nikki Haley. And Cabot Lodge stayed for eight years. But practically all of the others stayed for relatively short periods of time, sometimes even less time than Nikki Haley did. Moynihan famously stayed for seven months and then used his performance at the United Nations to get himself elected Senator. So you know, who knows what motivates all this. But again, I would emphasize, I think she did a very good job and she was kind of a breath of fresh air.

BOLDUAN: Of course, you say you don't know, but what do you think -- do you think this could have anything to do with, even though there was only effusive compliments and praise coming from Nikki Haley to the president and back again, she positioned herself in a unique way where she could speak out and criticize the administration, the president, in a way no one else could. Do you think that has anything to do with this?

NEGROPONTE: I think that principally speaks to her human relations skills. She's a very skilled lady. She knows how to disagree politely. She knows how to express herself extremely well, and do it with a kind of a tone of voice and a style that doesn't ruffle a lot of feathers and create a lot of friction. More power to her. But honestly, it's too early to tell why it is she actually left. I'm sure that will come out over time.

BOLDUAN: Ambassador, thanks so much for calling in. I appreciate it.

NEGROPONTE: Yes. Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, another major, major breaking news story that is on its way. Hurricane Michael bearing down on the gulf coast. Now a category 2 storm, expected to strengthen to a category 3 before it makes landfall. It could be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in more than a decade. The warning from the governor. That's next.


[11:53:39] BOLDUAN: Monstrous and life-threatening. Dire warnings from the National Weather Service about Hurricane Michael. It's now a category 2 and will likely strengthen to a category 3 before it makes landfall. The governor of Florida warning it could be the most destructive storm to hit in more than a decade. Millions of people are watching its every move.

CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is in the Weather Center with the latest.

Jennifer, what's the latest on Michael?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is a very strong storm. This is a strong category two. One mile per hour shy of becoming a category three. That's a major storm. Could become a category three by this afternoon. Moving to the north at about 12 and has winds 110 miles per hour.

It is expected to make land fall as a category three. A major storm. The track hasn't changed much at all. We are talking about a landfall possibly across that western side of the panhandle or near Appalachia. This is going to bring destructive winds. Many trees still have leaves especially in the Tallahassee area. This will make land fall and then race off to the east. Panama City under the warning. Much of the panhandle is, as well as tropical storm warnings and watches up into Georgia. The arrival of the tropical storm force winds. We are talking about by this evening, we will have tropical storm force winds along the panhandle. This one is coming up very quickly.

We're looking at power outages across the panhandle and up into Georgia, South Carolina. The Carolinas will get a lot of rain from the storm, a place soaked with rain from Florence a couple of weeks ago. Here's the forecast radar. You can see it by this evening starting to get the outer bands of the storm onshore and the five-day rain accumulation. We could see six to 10 inches of rain not only in the panhandle and the Carolinas as well -- Kate?

[11:55:40] BOLDUAN: Jennifer, thanks very much. Appreciate it. We'll be tracking every move with you.

From there, let's go to the ground. For millions of Floridians, time is running out, as Jennifer is pointing out, to get out of the path of the storm. Evacuations stretch down the panhandle and down the gulf coast almost to Tampa. And 300 miles of coastline under threat. Panama City in or near the bull's-eye.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in Panama City Beach.

Dianne, what are you seeing there?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, I can tell you that the people who remain here in Panama City Beach are watching the track very, very carefully right now. For most of the day, we had a little bit of wind and breezy. I can tell you that we are seeing surf at this point. The water out here in the ocean and the waves as the tides come in have started to be a lot more intense. If this is any indicator of what we are going to see later this afternoon, as officials have said, people need to get out of town now.

Kate, the governor says he has done what they can do at this point. And 2500 members of the National Guard has been activated. The majority has been here for the aftermath. More than 200 troopers from highway patrol are being put to the northwest part of the state to help with evacuations as well. They have reversed some of the tolls, basically suspending the roads to make it easier for people to get out of here. A lot of the airlines have gone ahead and suspended the change fees. All of this is an effort to evacuate people from the area because of that deadly storm surge expected to come with Hurricane Michael.

For a lot of people, if you have not left now, you need to get out within the next couple of hours.

A lot has to do with fuel, Kate. We have seen gas stations run out of fuel. The lines are long and the traffic is going to be significant as you leave the island areas like Panama City Beach and the other northwestern communities trying to go inland.

Again, Kate, if people have not left yet, they need to think about getting in their vehicles and getting out and going inland now. The storm surge is going to be severe.

BOLDUAN: Dianne, thank you so much.

The governor saying to heed the warnings. We'll get back to that.

We are continuing to follow other breaking news. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, announced she is resigning, sending shock waves through the foreign policy establishment. Much more on that, coming up.