Political News

Nikki Haley: I don't want to come to Washington

Posted October 27, 2017 1:21 p.m. EDT

— US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Friday she has no interest in moving to Washington amid rumors of a shake-up in the Trump administration and uncertainty over the future of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In an exclusive television interview with CNN while Haley stopped in the Democratic Republic of Congo for talks on Friday, the former South Carolina governor turned key diplomat made clear she did not want to address whispers about a potential Cabinet shakeup or the widening rift in her own party as she finds her feet on the world stage.

"I'm happy in New York," Haley said.

Asked if President Donald Trump were to offer her the secretary of state role should Tillerson leave, Haley said it was not going to happen and asserted she would not take the job.

"I would not take it," Haley said. "I want to be where I'm most effective,"

She offered little on her relationship with Tillerson, saying, "I see him at meetings just like I see everyone else."

"This whole team, we work hard," Haley said.

Haley previously told CNN that she was under consideration for secretary of state, saying Trump offered her the job last year and that she turned it down because she did not think she had enough experience. She said Trump went on to offer her the UN post, which she gladly accepted.

In Friday's interview, Haley also defended the President at length as Trump faces increasing criticism from his own party, with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker saying this week Trump is "breaking down" US relations around the world.

"This is what Republicans do," Haley said. "They debate each other"

Haley cited her time as Republican governor of South Carolina, likening the state GOP's disagreements to the disputes Trump faced on the national level.

In the interview, Haley said she spoke with Trump privately in the wake of racially charged violence in Charlottesville this past August, when Trump equated violence from both white supremacists and those protesting them.

Haley, during her time as governor, responded to a mass shooting at a historically black church by ordering the Confederate flag to come down from the state Capitol.

Haley said Trump was not the divisive leader many perceive, instead portraying him as compassionate and not "given the benefit of the doubt."

"The second he says something, he's criticized for it," Haley said.