Bannon: Timing of Nikki Haley's departure 'horrific'

   

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon on Wednesday lamented the announcement of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyNikki Haley: 'Israel wants a peace agreement but it doesn’t need one' Showdown at the Security Council? North Korea evading US sanctions: report MORE's impending departure, saying it distracted from the administration's successes.

Bannon said in an interview with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait that the timing of the announcement was "horrific" and "exquisite from a bad point of view."

"Everything she said yesterday and everything she said about stepping down could have been done on the evening of Nov. 6. The timing could not have been worse," Bannon said at an event in London.

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Bannon, who left the White House in August 2017 and was later publicly excoriated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE, told Micklethwait that Haley's announcement threatens to undermine the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughDemocrats will fail if they portray William Barr as controversial pick ‘Justice’ selected as Merriam-Webster’s 2018 word of the year Chief justice of California Supreme Court leaves GOP over Kavanaugh confirmation MORE and the strong economy that Republicans are hoping to tout heading into the midterms.

Bannon later credited Haley as "very talented" and "incredibly politically ambitious."

Trump and Haley announced on Tuesday morning that she would depart her post by the end of 2018. The two portrayed Haley's departure as amicable, explaining that she wanted to "take a break" from public service.

On Wednesday afternoon, Trump told reporters that there is "no good time" for a high-ranking administration official to leave. He suggested that had Haley waited to make the announcement after the Nov. 6 midterms, it would've been heavily scrutinized regardless of how the GOP fared in the elections.

"If we win they'd say 'why is she doing it?' and if we lose, they'd say 'oh it’s obvious why she’s doing it,' " Trump said during a briefing on Hurricane Michael.

Trump reiterated that former deputy national security adviser Dina Powell is among five people on his short list of potential replacements. He has not named other potential candidates.

He went on to praise Haley, who he suggested would go on to work in the private sector and possibly even return to the administration in some role.

"I want whoever [the replacement] is to spend some time with Nikki before Nikki goes out and gets herself a job, and hopefully she’s going to make a lot of money," Trump said. "And I think Nikki will come back in some form, too. But she's an extraordinary person."