Kudlow: Nikki Haley "got ahead of the curve"

"You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down," Haley said Sunday, adding that they could be announced Monday. But Trump has not signed off on new sanctions, the Washington Post reports.

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 12:52 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2018 12:52 PM

A consensus emerged Tuesday at the White House and Mar-a-Lago about how to clean up the administration's suddenly muddled plans to crack down on Russia: Blame Nikki Haley.

Several administration officials said the US ambassador to the United Nations got ahead of President Donald Trump's decision-making when she hit the Sunday talk show circuit and said the US would level new sanctions the next day targeting Russian companies that facilitated the Syrian regime's chemical weapons program.

"She got ahead of the curve," National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters on Tuesday near the President's Florida estate, a day after a report claiming Trump "put the brakes" on plans for new Russia sanctions. "She's done a great job, she's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that."

Haley struck back with a stunning statement later in the day that opened a new rift in the administration and raised questions about the White House's explanation of her comments.

"With all due respect, I don't get confused," she said in a statement obtained by CNN's Jake Tapper.

But Kudlow wasn't alone. A day earlier, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded to reports about Haley's comments by saying the administration was "considering additional sanctions on Russia," but that a decision hadn't yet been made.

Separately, two senior administration officials told CNN Tuesday that the President had not signed off on the new sanctions by the time Haley made her comments on two news programs Sunday and said Haley must have walked away from a Friday White House meeting about the sanctions having misunderstood how firm the plans were.

Trump 'annoyed'

Privately, Trump was "annoyed" at the confusion, a senior administration official said, one of the rare instances in which Haley has drawn his ire. It's not clear whether Trump has spoken directly to her since the White House said Haley had overstepped. Trump has praised Haley's performances at the UN Security Council to his aides as she makes the administration's case on Syria.

Haley wasn't the only official who walked away from Friday's meeting believing the sanctions against Russian entities would be announced in the coming days, as part of the broader US message about chemical weapons attacks following US-led airstrikes in Syria, administration officials said. But Haley did not clear her talking points about the sanctions with other administration officials before appearing Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" and "Fox News Sunday," two officials said.

Other administration officials were surprised that Haley had overstepped. Haley is known inside the White House for being one of the administration's most polished -- and outspoken -- public figures. She has been known to clear her remarks directly with the President before appearing on Sunday news programs, wary of contradicting a publicity-conscious President. One senior administration official expressed skepticism that Haley would have publicly previewed sanctions without a member of Trump's national security team confirming the plans to her before her interviews.

Even as the White House placed the blame squarely on Haley's shoulders, questions remained about what prompted her to specifically say: Treasury "Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing (new Russia sanctions) on Monday, if he hasn't already." She even said the sanctions would hit "any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons used."

And if Haley had overstepped on Sunday, it's not clear why White House waited more than 24 hours to correct the record.

The confusion was met with the typical sequence of eyerolls across Washington, where some surmised the public dissonance between Haley and the White House was just another symbol of the Trump presidency's inconsistency on policy, especially when it comes to Russia.

'Standard confusion'

"How many other things do you want to mention have been rolled out that way?" Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, told reporters Tuesday. "I didn't think much about it. You know, two weeks ago, we're moving out of Syria the next day, and then the next day we weren't. It's just sort of standard confusion."

The disconnect fed an emerging narrative that despite a series of punitive actions the President has aimed at Russia in recent weeks, he has done so reluctantly or unwittingly. The sense that Trump was backing away from a plan to roll out new Russia sanctions came after The Washington Post reported that Trump was upset that the US had expelled 60 Russian diplomats, believing the US would match the number of diplomats expelled by individual European countries -- not as a whole.

Trump has also privately maintained his desire to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, believing there would be few downsides to face-to-face dialogue, according to a senior administration official. He has expressed a belief that talking directly to Putin could clear up small differences that might lead to more substantive talks.

But this official said Trump doesn't maintain any "illusions" about Putin and recognizes the major disputes between the US and Russia won't be resolved with a single meeting.

Officials who weren't directly involved in the sanctions deliberations but knew of their progress weren't surprised by Haley's announcement on Sunday because they fit the "trajectory" the considerations were heading in, one person familiar with the matter said.

Multiple administration officials said they expected the sanctions would be announced in the days after the Syria strikes on Friday night, when even Trump warned the US response to Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons would "integrate all instruments of our national power -- military, economic, and diplomatic."

"We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents," Trump said in his national address.

Lingering questions

Questions about what prompted Haley to strike such a definitive note on the impending sanctions still hung in the balmy Palm Beach air Tuesday, where the President and several of his top aides are spending the week.

It was also not immediately clear whether the sanctions Haley had previewed -- and which multiple officials said were coming down the pike -- were still impending.

"Additional sanctions are under discussion but haven't been determined," Kudlow said Tuesday.

Trump told advisers Sunday that Russia's response to the strikes was less aggressive than he expected, leading Trump to question whether additional sanctions were warranted.

Even as Trump privately questions the need for additional sanctions in light of Russia's modest response to the US strikes, several administration officials said they expected new US sanctions to be leveled against Russian companies that facilitated Syria's chemical weapons program.

One source familiar with the deliberations said the sanctions were certainly not off the table and that discussions were ongoing, but declined to say when they would be publicly announced.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 110759

Reported Deaths: 3503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20645758
Lake10172317
Elkhart6321108
St. Joseph600797
Allen5921200
Hamilton4646109
Vanderburgh327129
Hendricks2638121
Monroe236836
Johnson2250122
Tippecanoe218413
Clark210156
Porter203344
Cass19279
Delaware184261
Vigo175722
Madison156575
LaPorte135637
Floyd130061
Howard127063
Kosciusko118717
Bartholomew114557
Warrick111935
Marshall98024
Boone94446
Dubois94018
Hancock90042
Noble87632
Grant86733
Henry75424
Wayne73714
Jackson7319
Morgan69438
Shelby66329
Daviess63927
LaGrange62911
Dearborn62128
Clinton59112
Harrison55624
Putnam5209
Montgomery50221
Lawrence50028
White47814
Knox4769
Gibson4644
Decatur45339
DeKalb44211
Miami4223
Fayette41713
Greene41535
Jasper3802
Steuben3647
Scott35310
Sullivan32812
Jennings30812
Posey2940
Franklin29325
Clay2925
Orange28224
Ripley2788
Carroll26913
Wabash2608
Washington2571
Starke2487
Wells2472
Whitley2476
Adams2403
Jefferson2403
Fulton2302
Huntington2173
Spencer2154
Tipton21522
Randolph2067
Perry20213
Newton17011
Jay1680
Owen1641
Martin1590
Rush1494
Pike1361
Vermillion1250
Fountain1152
Blackford1142
Pulaski1131
Crawford1020
Brown1013
Parke932
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland680
Warren401
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 143547

Reported Deaths: 4612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin25846603
Cuyahoga17041642
Hamilton12698307
Montgomery7443152
Lucas7091357
Butler558699
Summit5073248
Marion305747
Mahoning2988279
Warren289348
Stark2723168
Pickaway262844
Lorain225386
Delaware211620
Fairfield199950
Columbiana191880
Licking185362
Trumbull1847131
Clark170738
Wood167971
Clermont161120
Lake157249
Medina142038
Allen136567
Miami134149
Greene133827
Portage106466
Mercer104417
Tuscarawas91020
Wayne89866
Erie89644
Ross84922
Richland78119
Madison77612
Darke75939
Belmont70527
Geauga70147
Hancock6559
Ashtabula64148
Athens5882
Lawrence58818
Auglaize5629
Shelby5619
Sandusky55420
Putnam53723
Huron5217
Union4832
Ottawa46430
Scioto4596
Seneca43514
Preble41813
Holmes3707
Muskingum3672
Jefferson3184
Henry29412
Logan2913
Champaign2873
Perry2849
Defiance27910
Clinton27813
Knox27815
Brown2732
Hardin24913
Morrow2472
Washington24623
Fulton2321
Coshocton23011
Jackson2284
Fayette2256
Ashland2224
Highland2203
Crawford2176
Wyandot20112
Williams1973
Gallia17912
Meigs1709
Hocking1599
Guernsey1557
Pike1530
Carroll1497
Adams1204
Van Wert1103
Monroe10618
Paulding1010
Harrison601
Morgan460
Vinton453
Noble260
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 54°
Angola
50° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 50°
Huntington
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 51°
Decatur
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 45°
Van Wert
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 45°
Warming up for Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events