President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations was grilled at her confirmation hearing Wednesday about the differences between her policy positions and statements and promises Trump has made in the past. In summing up their differences, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that his national security team is looking towards educating and informing him about those issues which they disagree on.
Haley was reluctant to admit that they had not yet discussed many of those disagreements at length, only allowing that they were discussed, but not in depth. On whether the issue of Russia had come up, she answered, “yes it did, just from the standpoint of that we were gonna have issues with Russia.” With China, similarly, “The same thing, it was more about the issues that we had and the countries we were gonna have them with. But it didn’t go into detail about what those were going to be.”
When asked if she agreed with Trump’s controversial statement that, “Vladimir Putin has been a stronger better leader than Angela Merkel,” Haley spun his position into a vague notion of trying to get along with other leaders. “I think that what he is looking at just like he’s look at associations, he’s at opportunities and he’s trying to find opportunities where he can relate to different leaders and work with different leaders,” she offered.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire told Haley she was, “disturbed between the differences between her testimony and Trump’s statements.”
Haley pushed back on some of what Trump critiqued about the United Nations, saying, “I want to bring back faith to the UN. I want to show that we can be a strong voice in the UN. I want to show that we can have progress and have action in the UN…. and thats how I will show him that the UN matters.”
And on the NATO alliance, which had brought a lot of consternation from Republican leaders opposed to the expansionist policies of Russia, she also seemed to be on the opposite side of the President-elect.
NATO has obviously been an alliance that we value and an alliance that we need to keep. And I think that as we continue to talk to him about these alliances and how they can be helpful and strategic in the way that we move forward. I do anticipate the he will listen to all of us, and hopefully that we can get him to see it the way we see it.
Even on the accusations that Russia attempted to meddle in the elections, Haley sharply disagreed with Trump. “We are aware that is has happened, that we don’t find it acceptable,” she warned, “we are going to fight back every time that we see something like that happening.”
Haley also went on the offensive against Russian meddling in the Middle East, and specifically the disastrous policies in Syria.
When again, you see Russia protecting Syria, and Russia protecting these issues that are happening, it’s dangerous, and it’s something that we need to be very conscious of. Because right now, it’s not about protecting human life, I think it’s very much about making sure they’re protecting their own interests, and that’s not what America is, we value human life.
Finally, she walked back Trump’s tough talk on banning Muslims from entering the country, saying absolutely, “This administration and I don’t believe there should be any registration based on religion.”
Her “education” comment came after explaining how governing might change President-elect Trump’s attitudes, and how she intended to change them.
Once you govern it becomes very different and what we have seen is, that once the president-elect gets to hear from his national security team I think what he says after that will be most important and I think those are the focuses that we are going to have with the National Security Council, and making sure that we educate, inform him of what we know, inform him of strategies, and go along with whatever decision he decides to make.
Haley had endorsed Marco Rubio in the primary and even got into a short-lived Twitter feud with Trump during the Republican primary.