Former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley abandoned the president she served in an interview published Friday, saying that she and the Republican Party should have left him after the Capitol Building riot.
In a stunning rebuke of former President Donald Trump, Haley told Politico, “We need to acknowledge he let us down.”
“He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again,” she added.
The 2024 GOP presidential hopeful, who spoke to the outlet in mid-December, also said she never bought into the former president’s claims that the November election was stolen or rigged.
Asked if she tried to dissuade Trump from his belief, Haley said, “No. When he was talking about that, I didn’t address it.”
“I understand the president. I understand that genuinely, to his core, he believes he was wronged,” Haley added. “This is not him making it up.”
Politico noted that in late December, Haley called Trump to check on him.
“I want to make sure you’re okay. You’re my president, but you’re also my friend,” she said.
But after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Haley was asked again if she still considered Trump a friend.
“‘Friend’ is a loose term,” she responded Jan. 12.
The South Carolina Republican’s interview with Politico came well before a remarkably frank Time magazine piece published last week detailing how a “shadow campaign” involving a “cabal of powerful people” worked throughout last year behind the scenes in ways that critics say likely altered the outcome of the November election.
Haley went on to tell Politico that she had not spoken to Trump since the riot while expressing anger over his pressuring of Vice President Mike Pence in the rally speech Democrats say incited the Capitol attack.
“When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement,” Haley told Politico. “I am so disappointed in the fact that [despite] the loyalty and friendship he had with Mike Pence, that he would do that to him. Like, I’m disgusted by it.”
Haley has criticized Trump in the past.
“President Trump has not always chosen the right words,” Haley said during a speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Florida last month, shortly after the riot. “He was wrong with his words in Charlottesville, and I told him so at the time. He was badly wrong with his words yesterday. And it wasn’t just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
“It’s deeply disappointing. And it’s a real shame because I am one who believes our country made some truly extraordinary gains in the last four years. President Trump and Republicans deserve great credit for that,” she noted further. “We should not shy away from our accomplishments.”
She went on to rip Democrats and big tech companies for “inflam[ing] the American people’s passions beyond constructive boundaries.”
But she also said the GOP has played a role, noting “if we are the party of personal responsibility, we need to take personal responsibility.”
“We can and should talk about our major differences,” she said. “But we must stop turning the American people against each other — and this Republican Party must lead the way.”
Haley’s reported break with Trump comes on the heels of news that so-called ‘establishment Republicans’ are considering forming a third party that would be “center-right” but also would seek to back Democrats in some instances.
Reuters reported Thursday that more than 120 former elected Republicans and officials of former GOP administrations including Trump along with Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, held a Zoom call a week ago to discuss the possibility.
Under a general platform of “principled conservatism,” the party would also adhere to the Constitution and the rule of law, two things they claim Trump did not do.
“The plan would be to run candidates in some races but also to endorse center-right candidates in others, be they Republicans, independents or Democrats, the people say,” Reuters reported.
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