Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley staunchly defended President Trump during an often-heated interview discussing his controversial Ukraine call.
Haley told “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie on Tuesday that she “never had any concern” that Trump could not handle his job and continued to defend her former boss, not backing down from repeated attempts to have her speak against his July phone call with the president of Ukraine which sparked the current impeachment investigation by Democrats.
The former South Carolina governor asserted that it was “hard to see where impeachment would qualify” in Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. The call prompted a whistleblower complaint alleging a quid pro quo by the president who withheld nearly $400 million in aid in exchange for an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“Here you’ve got a situation where there was no investigation, and the aid flowed as it was supposed to,” Haley said as Guthrie immediately interjected to push back.
“With all due respect, to borrow a phrase,” Guthrie said, using the title of Haley’s new memoir.
“That doesn’t seem like much of a defense of the president,” she said. “That he might have tried to do those things, but it didn’t work out, so it’s all OK.”
Haley contended that, with the serious nature of an impeachment of a sitting US president and the fact that an election is less than a year away, the American people should make the decision on Trump by weighing in at the ballot box.
Guthrie switched gears to tackle the president’s “conduct,” actually directing the former diplomat to “stick only to the undisputed facts.”
Haley agreed that Trump thought “in his mind” that his call with Zelensky was “perfect,” but she cautioned that “it’s never a good practice for us to ask a foreign country to investigate an American.”
But she was clear to stress that there was “no insistence on that call, there are no demands on that call,” and that the Ukraine president must not have felt any pressure.
The “Today” host continued to press Haley in an almost condescending tone, reminding her of her leading role on behalf of Ukraine in the face of aggression from Russia.
“They always know that the funding of their military is hanging over their heads, do they not?” she asked, arguing with Haley over the hold-up of the aid which the former ambassador said was ultimately released.
“How is asking a foreign country to investigate your political rival putting America first?” Guthrie asked, referring to Haley’s resignation letter from when she stepped down as ambassador at the end of 2018. “Whose interest is that in? Is it in America’s interest or the president’s personal interest?” she said.
“Ukraine has always been an issue with corruption,” Haley replied and continued to respond calmly and politely as Guthrie seemed to become more agitated. That was the case that we always knew that there was corruption that was involved in the Ukraine – ”
“Okay, but the corruption mentioned by the President here has to do with Joe Biden and the DNC server, those are the two very specific examples,” Guthrie interrupted, giving Haley the perfect opportunity to push back.
“And Americans should want to know the answer of did Biden pressure the prosecutor to, you know, to do what he did? And I think there’s a real question there. You can question the President, but you also have to question what Biden did,” she said, in an obvious reminder to so-called journalists who only want to do a one-sided job of holding leaders accountable.
Guthrie’s attempt to turn the focus away from Biden and back on Trump failed miserably as Haley was not letting her off the hook.
“Let’s do a weighing of interest. As between America’s interest in making sure that Ukraine is able to battle the aggression of Russia, our adversary, as you well know, and whether there’s a U.S. interest in looking into Joe Biden’s son and the DNC server, which is the greater interest?” she asked.
“Well, I think you can’t put it into that and make sure that, that’s equal. I mean, I think what you have to look at the fact is we should ask, was Biden’s position abused?” Haley asked. “The same way you’re looking at the President, you have to look at Biden.”
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