WASHINGTON – The United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has resigned leaving President Donald Trump’s national security circle, White House officials said Tuesday.
“It’s been eight years of intense time, and I’m a believer in term limits. I think you have to be selfless enough to know when you step aside and let someone else do the job,” the 46-year-old said.
Her resignation comes ahead of what Trump promised on Twitter on Tuesday was a “Big announcement” with Haley at the White House.
Big announcement with my friend Ambassador Nikki Haley in the Oval Office at 10:30am.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2018
The former South Carolina governor had served since January 2017.
The daughter of immigrants from India later met with Trump in the Oval Office at 10:30 a.m., according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Accepting her resignation, President Donald Trump told reporters in the Oval Office she would be leaving the post at the end of the year after doing “an incredible job”.
He invited her to come back in a different role. “You can have your pick,” he said.
She told him: “Thank you, Mr. President. It has been an honor of a lifetime.”
The surprise resignation comes a day after a Washington DC watchdog group called for a federal investigation into Haley’s use of private planes owned by South Carolina businessmen.
The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, says Haley undervalued the flights by tens of thousands of dollars on her annual financial disclosure form required of federal officials.
“By accepting gifts of luxury private flights, Ambassador Haley seems to be falling in line with other Trump administration officials who are reaping personal benefits from their public positions,” the group’s executive director, Noah Bookbinder, said in a statement calling for the investigation Monday.
Yesterday, we requested an ethics investigation into Nikki Haley’s private flights. She resigned this morning as UN Ambassador. (These two things are probably unrelated.) https://t.co/4y0jkW8a6w
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) October 9, 2018
The ethics group says the flights create the impression of impermissible gifts to a public official. However, Haley said on her disclosure the men are all personal friends and, thus, exempt from federal rules about accepting flights on private planes.
During her period as ambassador to the U.N., Haley oversaw the strong and controversial changes promoted by Trump regarding the United States presence in the multilateral organization.
Haley’s stage has been marked by months of a complex relationship with the United Nations, because only in the last year the U.S. president decided to leave Unesco, the Global Compact on Immigration and the Human Rights Council.
With her resignation, Haley becomes the last high profile foreign policy figure to leave the Trump administration, as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and two national security advisers Michael Flynn and Herbert McMaster did before.
With Haley, there were six women in Trump’s Cabinet — 26%, a lower percentage than Barack Obama’s Cabinet, which ranged between 30% and 35%, but higher than George W. Bush, whose Cabinet had between 19% and 24%, according to data compiled by the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers.
If it is not a woman who replaces Haley, the percentage of women in Trump’s Cabinet would fall to 22%.