Speed Reads


Inside the cold snap between Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson

Nikki Haley, the high-profile U.N. ambassador who has gained notoriety for her strong, unabashed public statements, has attracted a significant spotlight as America's most visible diplomat.

There's just one problem: The country's top diplomat is usually the secretary of state. In a sprawling examination of Haley's tenure as U.N. ambassador, published Friday, Foreign Policy reporter Colum Lynch details the chilly relationship between Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has become somewhat sidelined as Haley elbows her way to the forefront.

The divide, Lynch says, stems from Haley's insistence that her role as ambassador be treated as a Cabinet-level position — as in, as equal to Tillerson's. Haley's spokeperson told Lynch that she had made this desire clear to President Trump before accepting the role, and "the president readily agreed."

As a result, Tillerson is conspicuously absent at events Haley leads. Moreover, the two have scheduled concurrent national security addresses, and Haley herself told lawmakers last year that "because I am a Cabinet member ... I work more with the [National Security Council] than I do with the State Department."

"The relationship is even worse than it appears from the outside," Lynch adds:

Haley and Tillerson have clashed from the beginning, says a Middle East analyst with close ties to the White House. "Her concern is she's a Cabinet member," the analyst says. "His concern is she works for him."

A Trump foreign-policy advisor puts it more bluntly. "Tillerson is stumbling, and the White House has been in a state of chaos for much of the first year," says the Trump source. "So Nikki just decided, absent a direction, 'I'm just going to fill the void.' She is grabbing the bull by the horns. Good for her." [Foreign Policy]

Read more about Haley — and her apparently thinly-veiled ambitions for higher office — at Foreign Policy.