Kudlow: Haley ‘got ahead of the curve’ on Russia sanctions

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UPDATE: Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has apologized after saying Tuesday that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley “got ahead of the curve” when she announced additional sanctions on Russia.

Haley said Sunday the U.S. planned to impose sanctions on Moscow as early as Monday. But the White House walked back her announcement the next day, saying no decision had been made.

“She got ahead of the curve,” Kudlow told reporters in West Palm Beach, Fla., where President Trump was set to meet with Japan’s prime minister. “There might have been some momentary confusion about that.”


Kudlow downplayed the notion that the mix-up created tension between Trump and Haley, saying that “she’s done a great job as ambassador.”

The head of the White House National Economic Council said the Treasury Department has readied a package of additional sanctions against Russia and that they “are under consideration but have not been determined.”

Kudlow later apologized over his comments. 

“She was certainly not confused,” Kudlow told The New York Times. “I was wrong to say that — totally wrong.”

“As it turns out, she was basically following what she thought was policy,” the president’s top economic adviser added. “The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it, so she was in a box.”

The mixed signals over sanctions created a headache for the White House, which has long battled accusations that Trump has treated Russian President Vladimir Putin with kid gloves.

The sanctions announcement was tied to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that the U.S. has blamed on Syrian President Bashar Assad, who counts Putin among his top allies.

Trump launched a series of airstrikes last week targeting Syrian chemical facilities while calling on Russia and Iran to drop their support for Assad. The sanctions were designed to ramp up pressure on Moscow over its support for the Syrian government in that country’s years-long civil war.

Haley said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn’t already and they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later issued a statement saying the White House is “considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future.”

The incident fueled the notion that Trump and his national security team are not on the same page when it comes to Russia. 

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump had not signed off on the sanctions at the time Haley made her announcement and that the president was upset with the rollout.  

Trump has sought to form a closer relationship with Putin, even as his administration has acted to punish Russia for its involvement in conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, as well as its interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Haley has been one of the most outspoken critics of Putin on Trump’s team.

Updated at 8:35 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Economic adviser Nikki Haley Russian sanctions Steven Mnuchin United States Ambassador to the United Nations

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