Now that Nikki Haley has abruptly announced her surprise resignation as Donald Trump’s UN Ambassador, people are already pointing to the longstanding buzz about Lindsey Graham abandoning his South Carolina Senate seat to take the Attorney General job, and the fact that Haley just happens to also be from South Carolina. But even as the theories continue to swirl, a couple of key facts are being overlooked.
First, Nikki Haley’s resignation comes just one day after respected legal watchdog CREW busted her for severe ethics violations similar to the ones that have forced two Trump cabinet members to resign. There was already a false start involving Haley and overpriced curtains. But this time around, her free flights appear to be the real deal, as they’ve been vetted by CREW attorneys, who are some of the best in the nation.
There is no ignoring the fact that Haley is suddenly resigning just one day after a scandal that could have gotten enough attention to eventually force her out, and ruin her reputation in the process. So while it’s possible that Haley was already planning to resign after the midterms, it’s fairly clear that yesterday’s scandal prompted her to pull the trigger today. But what now? And is there anything to this Lindsey Graham talk?
The theory goes that Donald Trump fires Jeff Sessions after the midterms and replaces him with Lindsey Graham, and then Nikki Haley ends up with Graham’s Senate seat. But that would require a Republican Senate to confirm Graham, and if the Democrats win the Senate, Graham stays put. If this is Haley’s plan, she’s taking an awfully big risk by resigning now, without knowing if the Senate seat is even going to come open.
This is all before getting to the utterly absurd notion that Lindsey Graham would want to throw away the next fifteen years of his Senate career just to take a temp job in a failing administration that may not exist in six months, after which his career would be over. If Graham does become Attorney General, there has to be more to it than mere career ambition.
In any case, the Graham-AG-Haley-Senate theory is going to be a popular one, because it’s straightforward and intriguing. The trouble is, it only makes sense if you don’t put much thought into it. It’s not a coincidence that Nikki Haley resigned one day after a scandal that could have destroyed her. And it’s nonsensical to think that Lindsey Graham would want the Attorney General job unless there’s more to it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report