Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s newly minted Director of the National Economic Council, made waves Monday when he threw U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley under the bus after an embarrassing news cycle for the administration.
Ambassador Haley announced on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday that a new round of deep-cutting sanctions aimed at Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s inner circle would be enacted in the coming days. These were part of the administration’s larger effort to punish Russia for propping-up Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad and enabling him to carry out last week’s chemical weapons attack on the town of Douma, one of the last rebel-held areas near Damascus.
“You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down,” she said on the popular Sunday morning news show, adding that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin “will be announcing those on Monday, if he hasn’t already, and they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use.”
But on Monday morning, officials inside the White House reached out to different media outlets to walk back Haley’s comments, saying no decision on new sanctions had in fact been made by President Trump.
“The sanctions were always something that was just under consideration,” an official told Politico, adding that, “We would not have rolled out sanctions through somebody saying them on a Sunday show.”
Those comments opened the administration up to accusations that they were not communicating with each other, or worse, that they were going soft of Russia. The TV savvy Kudlow went on the record Tuesday morning to try to clear things up, telling CNN’s Jeff Zeleny that Ambassador Haley was a little “confused” about the policy decisions the administration in fact made, and that she may have jumped the gun on the president’s intentions.
“She got ahead of the curve,” Kudlow said. “She’s done a great job, she’s a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that, but if you talk with Steve Mnuchin at Treasury and so forth, he will tell you the same thing — they’re in charge of this — we have had sanctions. Additional sanctions are under consideration but not implemented.”
Within just a couple hours Ambassador Haley fired back at Kudlow in the form of a statement to Dana Perino of Fox News.
“With all due respect, I don’t get confused,” Haley wrote in her statement, which was read live on the air by Perino during Fox News’s daily afternoon round table show, The Five. The statement and Perino’s reading of it quickly went viral on social media.
Late Tuesday, Kudlow apologized to Amb. Haley, essentially walking back the walk back.
Kudlow just told me he has spoken to Haley & apologized to her, saying he was "totally wrong" to call her confused & didn't have complete info. "The policy was changed & she wasn't told about it, so she was in a box."
— Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) April 17, 2018
Yet somehow, President Trump continues to insist that there’s no chaos within his administration.