U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley bites back on reports that she was “confused” when she announced new Russian sanctions during a CBS interview as a “strong message” to Russia after the alleged chemical attack on Syria by the Assad Regime.
The sanctions never came, with The White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders making a statement the decision on the sanctions was still under consideration.
“With all due respect, I don’t get confused,” the ambassador said in a statement to Fox News.
The comment was directed at Trump’s newly appointed economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who accused the U.S. diplomat of getting “ahead of the curve,” when she broadcasted Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin would announce new sanctions on Russia for their support of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad.
“There might have been some momentary confusion about that,” Kudlow told reporters in Florida after President Donald Trump back paddled on imposing the sanctions.
Kudlow later apologized for his statement.
“She was certainly not confused. I was wrong to say that — totally wrong,” he said. He also said the diplomat was not informed of the change in policy regarding Russian sanctions.
“As it turns out, she was basically following what she thought was policy. The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it, so she was in a box,” he added.
This move by the president directly contradicts U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s statement made at an interview with CBS. The U.S. envoy insisted new sanctions will be imposed on Russia to send a “strong message” against their support of the Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad.
However, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, “We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future.”
Several Washington Post sources claimed placing sanctions on Russia had been under serious consideration before Trump decided he was uncomfortable imposing them, in fear of retaliation from Russia.
A Russian Foreign Ministry official said the Trump administration was quick to inform the Russian embassy the sanctions were not going to be imposed.
The sources also alleged the announcement by Haley was a mistake “that needs to be mopped up.”
However, some other officials highly doubt Haley made such a huge statement without guidance. Officials believe her to be one of the most disciplined members of the administration. Sources said she regularly goes over her statements with the president so the idea that she accidentally slipped out details on imposing new sanctions on Russia just days after U.S. attacked Syria is highly unlikely.
The news about Haley promising new sanctions was reported by several media outlets. She did not give a clarification and it took the White House an entire day to backpedal on the U.S. envoy’s statement. Sources claimed the uncertainty regarding the imposition of sanction within the Trump administration caused the delay.
Haley was being interviewed on CBS when she said, “You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down. [Treasury Secretary Steve] Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn't already, and they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use. I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. We wanted their friends Iran and Russia to know that we meant business and that they were going to be feeling the pain from this as well."
The sanctions were supposed to be a diplomatic response to the alleged chemical attack in Syria, which were allegedly part of the response menu designed by national security advisers.
The United States, Britain and France coordinated strikes on Syria in retaliation to the chemical attack by Assad Regime. Previously, the U.S. decided to expel 60 Russian diplomats in condemnation of the poisoning of a Russian double agent in Britain.
Prior to Sanders' statement of halting the sanctions for now, the comments by Haley were criticized by the Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov as “international economic raiding.”
“The sanction campaign against Russia is truly assuming the nature of an obsessive idea. ...We see them as going against international law,” Peskov said. “Certainly, this cannot have any relation to and cannot be motivated by considerations of the situation in Syria or any other country. ... I would call this international economic raiding rather than something else.”
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz