U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Monday that Russia is “never going to be our friend,” but offered support for President Donald Trump’s decision to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We don’t trust Russia. We don’t trust Putin. We never will. They’re never going to be our friend. That’s just a fact,” Haley told Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody.
Haley added that she backed Trump’s decision to meet with Putin in Finland last week.
“I think going to Helsinki and having the conversation was something that was a long time coming,” she said. “There were a lot of grievances that needed to be aired. There were a lot of challenges that we needed to discuss, and I think the president did that.”
Trump received a torrent of criticism from members of the media, as well as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, for seeming to be as ready to accept Putin’s denial of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential race as the U.S. intelligence community’s findings that it did.
The president clarified following the meeting that he has “full faith” in America’s intelligence agencies, including their findings concerning Russian attempts to influence the election. He noted that he has stated on multiple times over the past year he believes Russia sought to meddle, but does not believe it changed the outcome.
Asked about the summit Haley said, “I think what’s controversial is the words that he said, but to me the actions are the only thing that matters.”
She pointed to his decisions to arm the Ukrainians, conduct military strikes against Putin ally Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, and expel dozens of Russian diplomats.
In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Trump stated,”Getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia, is positive, not a negative.”
He added, “That being said, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be the worst enemy he’s ever had.”
NEW — President Trump tells CNBC: Obama was a ‘patsy’ for Russia, 'I'll be the worst enemy' Vladimir Putin has ever had if relationship 'doesn't work out' https://t.co/taDZiXtZX7 pic.twitter.com/PXHuk4Nzea
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) July 19, 2018
He, like Haley, emphasized the actions he has taken against Putin’s interests.
“Look at the sanctions I threw on. Look at the diplomats I threw out. Look at all of the things that I’ve done,” he said.
Trump continued, “Nobody else did what I’ve done. Obama didn’t do it. Obama was a patsy for Russia. He was a total patsy.
“I have been far tougher on Russia than any president in many, many years.”
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