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‘It’s Not a Change in Policy’: Nikki Haley Affirms US Commitment to NATO

UN ambassador Nikki Haley said that the United States remains firmly committed to the NATO alliance in an interview with MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace.

Haley’s comments followed President Donald Trump’s contentious speech before European members of NATO, in which he declined to explicitly affirm his commitment to Article 5, which binds member countries to collective defense of the alliance.

Wallace first asked Haley “how the president’s reluctance to affirm our commitment to all for one, one for all at the NATO summit” affects Haley’s job of “shoulder to shoulder diplomacy.”

“Article 5 is something that we have always supported,” Haley responded.

“Do you support it today?” Wallace asked.

“Yes, absolutely,” Haley said, stating that it is America’s policy to support collective defense.

Wallace asked why Trump didn’t explicitly endorse Article 5 during the NATO meeting, and Haley responded that “there’s a lot of things he didn’t say, and I think people are nitpicking at what he did say.”

“If it was a change in policy, he would have said it. It’s not a change in policy,” she continued. “So we’re going to continue to support our allies the way we always have.”

In response to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cold-shouldering of the current administration, Haley said, “Germany will see in time that we have the backs of our allies.”

“And all of our allies are starting to see that. And that’s our job, is to show them that we’ve got their back, and when the time comes we need them to have our back as well,” she said.

When Wallace pointed out that Trump seems to be stoking conflict between the US and Germany on Twitter, Haley noted that while there may be “some differences in opinion” between Trump and Merkel, she reaffirmed the commitment to European allies: “we believe in NATO.”

“Maybe he’ll send you next time,” Wallace said, “because most people thought it was stunning that he couldn’t say what you just said.”

“I think that he had a successful trip,” Haley responded.

Wallace next moved on to Russia, noting that Trump’s reluctance to take a strong stance against Vladimir Putin worries US allies in Europe.

Haley responded that she has not had United Nations members question where the US stands on Russia, but Wallace was unsatisfied. “Because you’re a harsh critic of Vladimir Putin, you sound more like John McCain than Donald Trump,” Wallace said.

“When Russia does something wrong, of course I’m going to call them out,” Haley retorted. “But you have to understand I work for a man who has not stopped me from calling them out.”

This is not the first time that the UN ambassador has broken from Trump’s unorthodox foreign policy positions. In her January confirmation hearing, Haley argued for standing up to Russia in Syria and Ukraine, and called NATO an “important alliance.”

Wallace and Haley went on to talk about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as reports that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner sought to set up a secret backchannel with Russian officials.

Haley also discussed her trip to Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey, during which she pledged to increase funds for relief efforts, in spite of Trump’s proposed budget cuts to foreign aid.

Watch above, via MSNBC.

[image via screengrab]

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: [email protected] Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin