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Nikki Haley Used Trump’s Unpredictability to Her Advantage at the UN

Outgoing U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley spoke to NBC’s Today about how she leveraged President Donald Trump’s unpredictable behavior and rhetoric in her post.

Haley told NBC anchor Craig Melvin that she and Trump would strategize ahead of negotiations, explaining, “if I needed to pick up the phone and say this is what I’m going to do, are you good with this? We kind of partnered in that.”

Responding to whether they were playing “good cop, bad cop,” Haley said simply, “I was trying to get the job done. I got the job done by being truthful but also by letting him be unpredictable and not showing our cards.”

For example, Haley noted that Trump would “ratchet up the rhetoric,” at which time Haley would tell the other ambassadors that Trump was upset, noting that “I can’t promise you what he’s going to do or not, but I can tell you if we do these sanctions, it will keep him from going too far.”

The secret to working with Trump, Haley said, was “being honest with myself and being honest with him.” Being honest with herself entailed being able to tell Trump when she thought they were headed in the right or wrong directions. “Him being willing to listen to that and discuss it has been hugely helpful,” she said.

While some people have suggested that Haley and Trump weren’t always on the same page, Haley said it is simply because their “styles are different.” Saying that she “always found that funny,” Haley nevertheless noted that she “never strayed from where the president was or never strayed from where his policy wants to go.”

Maintaining diplomatic tact throughout the interview, Haley continued in a similar tone when asked about Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman Trump plans to nominate to succeed Haley. “I want her to be successful,” Haley said. And when asked whether Nauert has the right qualifications for the role, Haley noted that “a lot of people said that about me.”