Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer explains why UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is standing up for herself in a public disagreement with the Trump administration over US sanctions on Russia after the president flipped his position. Following is a transcript of the video.
Ian Bremmer: Trump has changed his tone on Russia.
Nikki Haley is someone with a long political future and she’s very aware of that. She is not someone that is about to sit and kowtow, we’ve seen that on her statements on Russia consistently since she’s become UN Ambassador. There’s no question that she’s been probably the most hawkish of the major Trump advisors on Russia from day one, when a lot of people have been criticising Trump for being unwilling to go after Putin individually.
Trump has changed his tone on Russia. He has become harder-lined, he has supported putting very significant sanctions against major Russian oligarchs, which is putting a serious crimp on the Russian economy, much worse than what we saw from the Europeans, that was Trump directly supporting those sanctions.
But we’ve also seen Trump still angry about the idea of getting rid of 60 Russian diplomats and doing more than individual European countries, even though the U.S. is bigger. We’ve seen Trump being much more upset about, most recently with Nikki Haley, when she says, we’re definitely putting more sanctions on, and he overturns her.
So, there’s something about the Trump/Putin relationship, at least in Trump’s mind, that makes him not want to take him on in the same way that pretty much everyone in Congress, and many of those in his own administration want him to. It’s unusual, particularly because Trump usually doesn’t care about offending people. Like if someone annoys him or does something bad to him he is the first one to hang up the phone, we saw that with the Australian Prime Minister for example. He’s the first one to insult and offend directly in a meeting, we’ve seen that with a host of leaders, the Mexicans, for example, many of the Europeans.
This is not something that upsets Trump personally, so it’s a little unusual, and because it’s Nikki Haley, who sees herself not just as a Trump person but, you know, former governor, someone that certainly is thinking about higher positions in the future, she’s thinking about her own brand, more than she’s thinking about her brand vis-a-vis Trump. And, obviously if she gets in a lot of headlines that is, that makes her a little more vulnerable in terms of Trump’s own decision to keep her or not, but at the end of the day, everyone in the Trump administration has a half-life that seems to be a little smaller, a little shorter than that of other administrations we’ve ever seen. So whether she thinks she can really last for four years or eight, I think is an open question.
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