U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says President Donald Trump never told her “not to slam Russia” as she took over the job of being America’s voice at the United Nations.
The former S.C. governor made the comments in a sit-down interview with NBC’s Today Show Thursday, one of the first times Haley has spoken to the media since she was confirmed as U.N. ambassador in January.
Haley said she has talked to Trump about controversial contacts between Russian officials and his presidential campaign and administration.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned after only a month on the job for his misleading comments about his conversations with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office. Also, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any Russia-related investigations after his own conversations with the Russian ambassador were revealed.
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But Haley told Matt Lauer she was not disturbed by those conversations, especially now that she is an ambassador herself.
“It’s an ambassador’s job to talk to everybody,” she said.
At the U.N., Haley has been critical of Russia at times, including for its bombing campaign in Syria. She said she hasn’t received any push back from the Trump White House for those comments.
“He’s letting me do my job,” the Lexington Republican said.
Haley also addressed Trump’s proposed travel ban involving six Muslim-majority nations, which a federal judge blocked from going into effect. She denied accusations the order amounted to a “Muslim ban.”
“As the daughter of immigrants, I’m extremely sensitive” to the important role immigrants play in the United States, Haley said. “But these are countries with serious terrorist activity going on.
“I don’t think we should ever ban anybody based on their religion,” she said. “What (Trump) is doing is (saying): ‘Let’s take a step back and temporarily pause ... until you prove to me the vetting is OK.’ ”
Haley declined to comment on Trump’s unproven accusation that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower.
Instead, she said, “He’s our president, and I want him to be successful.”
Today will air more of the interview with Haley on Friday.