US President Donald Trump said he has accepted Haley's resignation and that she will leave her position "to take a little time off" at the end of 2018.
Trump paid tribute to the outgoing Haley at a White House press conference. He said Haley had been “very special” to him.
“She’s done an incredible job,” Trump said. “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 — right from the beginning — and worked with us on the campaign. It’s been really a long time — very intense.”
Trump continued to say that Haley had let him know around six months ago that she would take some time off.
— TIME (@TIME) October 9, 2018
A surprise exit for Haley and the search for her replacement
Haley said she had restored the reputation of the US internationally. “Now the United States is respected,” she said. “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.”
Haley’s decision was a surprise to many in the media and the political establishment but she exits on good terms in a marked contrast to the acrimonious departures of former Trump colleagues such as former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Some Washington observers have suggested Haley will seek another high-profile office or possibly run as a candidate for the US Presidency in 2020 but Haley rejected this idea and said she would campaign for Trump at the next presidential election.
Trump is considering options for her successor and will make a decision in the next three weeks.
Reporters named the US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell and Dina Powell, a former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy under Trump, as possible replacements. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump was also mentioned as a candidate but took to Twitter to say she was not in the running. Donald Trump said of Ivanka: “I’m not sure there’s anybody more competent in the world”, but that he would be accused of nepotism if he appointed her.
It is an honor to serve in the White House alongside so many great colleagues and I know that the President will nominate a formidable replacement for Ambassador Haley. That replacement will not be me.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) October 9, 2018
Haley spent almost two years as US Ambassador to the UN
She also fiercely criticised the UN at times and took aim at what she saw as the body’s anti-Israel tendencies. She led the US out of the UN’s Human Rights Council, trashing the group as a “cesspool of political bias”.
Political analysts have suggested Trump will look to replace Haley with a more openly hawkish colleague. Haley had been successful for the most part at keeping both her domestic counterparts on board and ensuring relationships with the international community did not completely deteriorate.
She had been an outspoken critic of Russia, Iran and Syria’s aggressive behaviour on the world stage and was seen as instrumental in pressuring China to act on North Korean aggression. She also warned Pyongyang: “If war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”
"Nikki Haley was generally seen as one of the grown ups in the Trump administration," says @MaxBoot calling her resignation as US Ambassador to the UN "a sad moment" https://t.co/DfjzkiNgCU pic.twitter.com/orXOFzdbNe
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) October 9, 2018
Considering Haley’s balancing act, David Bosco, an Associate Professor at the University of Indiana Bloomington, told Vox: “I think she’s been as close to a traditional Republican UN ambassador as you can have in a very untraditional Republican administration.”
US Diplomat Bathsheba Crocker was less enthused about Haley’s legacy, saying it was difficult to identify anything the outgoing Ambassador stood for.
Despite having backed Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio over Trump and aligning herself with the ‘Never Trump’ movement, the former Governor of South Carolina proved a valuable ally for the President on an international level, at one point saying she was “taking names” of those who voted against the US on the issue of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.