Nikki Haley with Donald Trump
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Nikki Haley, the fiery US ambassador to the United Nations, seems to have crossed swords with her boss in the White House. President Trump is said to have taken to shouting at the TV whenever he sees her making statements.
Last weekend, the spat flew spectacularly into the open when Trump undercut Haley over her claims that the White House was about to impose new sanctions on Russia. Trump's blood pressure reportedly surged with rage at her apparent uppityness to make up policy on the hoof.
Next day, the Trump administration pointedly announced it was holding off on new sanctions against Moscow. Haley was embarrassingly left hanging out to dry. A senior Trump aide told US media that the UN ambassador had gotten "confused." Haley then hit back at the slight, saying she "doesn't get confused."
There seems little doubt that the former South Carolina governor who was once such a rising star in Team Trump has now fallen out of favor with the president.
Such rapid reversal in fortune is par for the course for those who work for Trump. Rex Tillerson, HR McMaster, and many other senior members of his administration, have all been ditched by the president at a moment's notice, usually via his Twitter feed.
Nikki Haley would likewise be advised to watch her back. Any day, she might find herself out of a job.
But lately, her bravura performances at the UN Security Council have apparently rankled Trump for displaying a little too much self-importance and ambition. The word is that the president -- himself a person with excessive egotism -- views Haley as being a little too big for her boots, who harbors secret plans to one day occupy the White House.
The New York Times this week reported on growing jealousies and insecurities between the president and his UN ambassador. Trump is wary that Haley's grandstanding at the UN is more about advancing her political reputation among the Republican party, with a view to launching a run for the presidency in 2020. There is even talk of Haley teaming up with the current vice president Mike Pence for the presidential ticket. Trump has his eye on being re-elected, and is none too pleased with the conjecture about Haley striving to become the first female president.
Apart from grubby political jealousies and infighting could there be anything more significant in the dimming star of Nikki Haley?
Trump's abrupt intervention to scotch the latest round of sanctions against Russia may indicate a pragmatic realization that relations between Washington and Moscow are sliding much too dangerously.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has recently warned of dire deterioration in bilateral relations to the worst years of the old Cold War.
Russia's envoy to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia -- Haley's counterpart -- has also deplored that the way things are unraveling a war between the US and Russia cannot be ruled out. The worst flashpoint seems to be in Syria, where Russian troops are based, especially after Trump ordered a barrage of the country with over 100 missiles last weekend.