During Tuesday’s edition of At This Hour With Kate Bolduan, the eponymous host and her panel reacted to the impending departure of United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who announced that she would step down from her post at the end of this year. While Haley stressed that she has decided to step down out of respect for term limits, citing her six-year tenure as Governor of South Carolina and her two years as US Ambassador to the UN, the CNN panel didn’t buy that explanation as the primary reason for her departure.
According to White House Reporter Abby Phillip, “the President has just come out of a major political fight involving his Supreme Court nominee who was accused of sexual misconduct, a time when we have been focusing in on the President’s standing with female voters. We have seen so much anger from women. And some folks are questioning the timing, saying that Haley doing this now naturally leads to questions about whether they are related.”
Phillip later speculated that Haley’s departure from the administration will further exacerbate the gender gap ahead of the midterm elections; now just four weeks away. Phillip described the gender gap as “widening as we speak” and suggested that “some people in this White House are questioning whether the political timing of this was good for both President Trump and for Nikki Haley.”
CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger echoed Phillip’s speculation: “There is a huge gender gap in this country and you have a very visible woman in this administration deciding to leave at this particular time, even though it’s not in effect until January.” Borger also expressed skepticism of Haley’s citation of term limits as the reason for her departure, saying “that doesn’t really explain everything to me.”
For her part, Haley did her best to squash speculation related to another media fantasy: her mounting a primary challenge to President Trump in 2020. Phillip conceded that “what you did see in that Oval Office spray was Nikki Haley making it very clear that she was going to be out on the campaign trail for President Trump in 2020. She was not abandoning him.”
President Trump also said that Haley had brought up her desire to step aside six months ago. While Borger admitted that it was “completely possible,” she still expressed skepticism of the timing, describing it as “something that’s quite interesting, that we really…have to dig on.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Tuesday’s At This Hour With Kate Bolduan is below. Click “expand” to read more.
A transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more.
At This Hour With Kate Bolduan
KATE BOLDUAN: I want to get back over to the White House right now. White House correspondent Abby Phillip is there with a little bit more about the question of timing…Abby?
ABBY PHILLIP: Yeah, Kate. It’s not a surprise necessarily in this White House that people would be surprised by a departure. But we are hearing more and more from a lot of sources around this White House and in the White House that very senior people were not aware that this was coming. Some sources telling us that even President Trump was caught by surprise by the timing. And the timing here is significant. Some White House officials are questioning why Haley would choose to do this right at this exact moment. The President has just come out of a major political fight involving his Supreme Court nominee who was accused of sexual misconduct, a time when we have been focusing in on the President’s standing with female voters. We have seen so much anger from women. And some folks are questioning the timing, saying that Haley doing this now naturally leads to questions about whether they are related. Now, many of those people do not necessarily believe that this has anything at all to do with Kavanaugh, but they have questioned that timing. And despite what the President said, that she told him six months ago that she wanted to take some time off, there was no indication that the moment that she would submit her resignation would be right now and I think it puts them in a tough position, not only for the Kavanaugh reason, but also, we are four weeks away from a midterm election. Again, women become a crucial, a bloc of voters Republicans are doing very, very poorly with right now compared to Democrats. That gender gap is widening as we speak. And I think some people in this White House are questioning whether the political timing of this was, was good for both President Trump and for Nikki Haley. But at the same time, what you did see in that Oval Office spray was Nikki Haley making it very clear that she was going to be out on the campaign trail for President Trump in 2020. She was not abandoning him. And that’s important not just because it shows that she supports President Trump but it also shows that she’s going to continue to cultivate her own political image. So I think a lot of people are seeing Nikki Haley, who has long been viewed as a rising star in the party, working even at this very moment to preserve and even burnish her own political credentials as she prepares to step aside.
BOLDUAN: Abby, thank you so much, from the White House. Let me get over to CNN’s Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger. Gloria, on the why, why leave, why leave now, Haley didn’t…to me, it didn’t seem she shed much light. I mean, she said it’s not for personal reasons. I’m a believer in term limits, essentially. What are you thinking?
GLORIA BORGER: Well, I think we don’t know the reason she’s leaving. She, you know, our colleague, Dana Bash, is reporting that there could be financial reasons here, that she wants to go out and make some money, that she has two college-aged kids. You know, we don’t know exactly what her relationship with Donald Trump is these days, although he did go out of his way to praise her. We know that the timing of this is sort of strange, given the fact that you’re heading into a midterm election. And as Abby was just saying, you know, there is a huge gender gap in this country, and you have a very visible woman in this administration deciding to leave at this particular time, even though it’s not in effect until January. So we don’t really know why other than her reason, which is, you know, I think people ought to limit themselves in jobs. But that doesn’t sort of explain everything to me. I don’t know if it does to you. But it really, it really doesn’t.
BOLDUAN: Well, and Gloria, Jamie Gangel actually pointed this out, and I found this…it’s an important thing to note is you heard President Trump say that, he said something to the effect when they were speaking that some six months ago, Nikki Haley came to him saying that…brought this up. But if that’s the case, I find it near impossible that it would come as such a surprise that we’re hearing from folks now. Do you?
BORGER: Right, and that it would come as a surprise to the Secretary of State or Bolton or anybody else. You know, in other words, if this were sort of a well-oiled thing, it might have gone off a little bit differently. So I sort of…maybe she raised it six months ago. I mean, that’s, you know, that’s completely possible. But the timing of this, I think, is something that’s quite interesting, that we really have to, have to dig on.