In another stop on her book-promotion tour, an interview with the Washington Post, Haley employed her well-developed method of seeming to be critical of the president while still defending him. “Do I think it’s not good practice to talk to foreign governments about investigating Americans?” she asked rhetorically. “Yes. Do I think the president did something that warrants impeachment? No, because the aid flowed.” To put it a bit differently, Haley is arguing that even if the president tried to change policy toward Ukraine and extort its president, that attempt failed to work, and anyway, Ukraine got its aid. This argument—also voiced by congressional Republicans at last week’s impeachment hearings—turns morality on its head. Just because Donald Trump is a failed extortionist doesn’t mean his attempted extortion didn’t take place.
There was a time when Haley, as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, took tough positions that differed from, or were even the opposite of, the president’s proclaimed policy views, especially toward Russia and Putin. That is why, when she left the U.N. job at the end of 2018, many observers speculated that she was planning to run against Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries. The expectation was that she could be an old-style hawkish leader against America’s enemies—which would have sharply contrasted with Trump’s neo-isolationism. Recall that the very liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote in 2015 praising Haley for taking on the president. He quoted her as saying, “Every time someone criticizes him, he goes and makes a political attack back. That’s not who we are as Republicans. That’s not what we do.” She added that Americans “want to know they’re sending someone up to the White House that’s going to be calm and cool-tempered and not get mad at someone just because they criticize him. We would really have a world war if that happens.”