Washington (CNN)Nikki Haley has displayed unusual prominence as a face of the Trump administration in its openings months. And according to her, the boss doesn’t mind.
Haley, with no prior national security experience and once a vociferous Trump critic, has nevertheless emerged as an outspoken foreign policy figure defending Trump’s worldview. And she’s doing so from her perch as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, a narrow gig that has not always been at the vanguard of an administration’s broader priorities.
“He has given me a lot of leeway to just say what I think and interpret what he thinks,” Haley said of the president in an interview with CNN’s Jamie Gangel. “I would never go rogue, because I’m very aware of who I work for.”
But Haley has used the UN to offer a hawkish veneer for Trump’s less interventionist foreign policy. She has blasted Russia in the wake of the domestic attack in Syria by Bashar al-Assad, which motivated a US airstrike by Trump earlier this month.
“I’m a strong voice by nature. I’m sometimes a bull in a china shop,” she said. “And, you know, he allows me to do that.”
So when Haley decided to show the photographs of dead children in Syria at the UN Security Council, Haley says she didn’t solicit approval from the White House or the State Department. She made the decision at the “last minute,” she says, to do so her on her own.
Haley said Trump has never told her privately not to utter something, and that the pair speaks multiple times a week.
“I know what he’s thinking and I just deliver that. And that’s what he has told me to do,” she said. “When he hired me I made it clear, I didn’t want to be a wallflower or a talking head, that if he was going to hire me and if I was going to take the job, I was going to work hard for him, I was going to stand up for the United States, I was going to try and make everyone proud and I was going to do it in my own way.”
Haley also insists that she has a close working relationship with Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state who has crafted a lower profile at the beginning of the Trump presidency. Asked if there was any awkwardness in the relationship, Haley explained the difference as “just the personalities.”
“You know, he’s very much an executive. He’s thoughtful in his approach and how he moves forward,” she said. “I’m one that’s not afraid to say anything. You know, I’m not easily intimidated and so I can go out and say things. So I think we actually complement each other very well.”
“He has not complained,” she said when asked about her prominence.
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