(PALM BEACH, Fla.) — U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday fired back against a Trump administration official who said she was suffering from “momentary confusion” when she announced new sanctions against Russia were imminent, saying, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
A striking intra-administration quarrel splayed out in public when National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters during a briefing in Florida that Haley “got ahead of the curve” when she said the U.S. would be slapping new sanctions on Russia on Monday in retaliation for the country’s support for Syria’s Assad government after its latest suspected chemical attack.
Kudlow said additional sanctions are under consideration but have yet to be implemented and said of Haley: “There might have been some momentary confusion about that.”
Haley had said Sunday during an appearance on “Face the Nation” that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would be announcing new sanctions directed at companies associated with Syria’s chemical weapons program on Monday, “if he hasn’t already.”
But Monday came and went without an announcement.
On Tuesday, in a statement to Fox News, she said, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
The dispute between Haley’s team and the White House had been playing out largely behind the scenes since Haley’s initial comments. The White House has been struggling to explain Haley’s remarks amid reports that Trump put the brakes on the new sanctions. Several administration officials have disputed that characterization, saying Haley was out of the loop.
One senior administration official said that, under the plan conceived last week, the sanctions would have been announced Friday night, at the same time U.S., French, and British forces launched a missile strike on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons facilities. But the sanctions were not ready in time for Trump’s Friday night statement, so they were delayed.
The official said a decision was then made to announce the sanctions as an answer to Russia’s response to the strikes. But that plan was reevaluated and then put on hold over the weekend as it became clear that Russia’s response was less robust than anticipated. The official was not authorized to discuss private administration deliberations publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., applauded the administration Tuesday as having “moved miles in the right direction” on Russia policy.
“Not only did we scuttle the reset, not only are we now sanctioning Russian citizens, not only are we sanctioning Russian oligarchs, we’re sanctioning Russia itself. We have so improved our policy with respect to Russia, far more hawkish, far more realistic,” he said.
Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.