Just days after pushing through the controversial appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court, US President Donald Trump has lost one of his staunchest cabinet allies.
United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley announced her shock resignation from the position Wednesday morning (AEST), saying that she wanted to “take a little time off”.
Mr Trump confirmed Ms Haley will formally depart the administration by the end of the year.
Ms Haley said there was “no personal reason” behind her surprising decision and reiterated that she will not be returning to the White House.
“It’s good to rotate in other people who can put that same energy and power into it,” she said, adding that she had been a “lucky girl” to have served a country “I love so very much”.
A former governor of South Carolina who is the daughter of Indian immigrants, Ms Haley is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party and a possible candidate for the 2020 presidential elections.
Ms Haley refuted speculation she would stand against Mr Trump in the 2020 US presidential election.
“I expect to continue to speak out from time to time on important public policy matters, but I will surely not be a candidate for any office in 2020.”
— The Hill (@thehill) October 9, 2018
Ms Haley’s resignation announcement came as Mr Kavanaugh participated in several Supreme Court cases, including a question about introducing tougher sentencing laws for repeat offenders.
Democratic senator Bob Menendez said Ms Haley’s resignation was
“another sign of the Trump Administration’s chaotic foreign policy” and urged White House officials to promptly designate a successor.
“I am deeply concerned about the leadership vacuum she leaves and the national security impact of her departure at this time of continued disarray for this Administration,” Mr Menendez said in a statement.
As Mr Trump accepted Ms Haley’s resignation, he said he hoped she could come back to the administration.
“We’re all happy for you in one way, but we hate to lose (you). … Hopefully, you’ll be coming back at some point. Maybe a different capacity. You can have your pick,” Mr Trump said.
Speaking in the Oval Office at the White House with Mr Trump, Ms Haley noted there had been many successes at the United Nations including that “we spoke out resolutely against dictatorships in Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and yes, Russia”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
"I would like to thank Ambassador @nikkihaley, who led the uncompromising struggle against hypocrisy at the UN, and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country. Best of luck!" pic.twitter.com/Lr6IvkM5U9
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) October 9, 2018
Echoing previous statements from Mr Trump, Ms Haley said the US under his presidency is now respected around the world.
“Now the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do. They know that if we say we’re going to do something, we follow it through,” she said.
Ms Haley is the latest in a long list of senior staff members to leave the Mr Trump administration, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was fired in March.
Ms Haley discussed her resignation with Mr Trump last week when she visited him at the White House, Axios news site reported.