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Whenever the unexpected occurs in Washington, people always try to figure—why? UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, when asked why she was leaving, said basically, “cuz I wanna.” Meanwhile, Donald Trump just smiled and said, “I knew that,” which is what Trump always says, in the same manner as when a cat falls off a table and says, “I meant to do that.’ So there’s still a perception that this was a surprise to everyone, including Trump, and that there must be a motive. Actions usually have motives.

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Townhall was reporting the event in real time, so we get a chance to see the reporter’s mindset as the story broke.

Despite my best efforts, I’ve been unable to glean any additional information on the ‘why’ piece of the development. I’ve heard that the president was disappointed to learn that she was departing, and that she’s exhausted from the job, but that doesn’t quite add up as a complete explanation. A few other theories floating around:

(1) She’s fundamentally opposed to the foreign policy direction the administration is taking, and is resigning in protest. This strikes me as unlikely.

(2) She’s got an ethics problem coming, and she wants to get out in front of it. Maybe, but the flights stuff seems pretty thin.

(3) She’s planning to challenge Trump in a 2020 primary, or that she was going to be outed as the “anonymous” op/ed writer. I’d put both in the highly unlikely category. Trump sounds like he’s going to give her a strong send-off, after all

(4) Sen. Lindsey Graham is about to become Attorney General, and she’s ready to step in to fill that Senate vacancy (Graham has denied interest in this).

(5) She’s just tired of the position and the related attacks, and wants a break from politics and public service while her children are still a certain age.

Well, let’s look at those things one at a time. First, is she opposed to Trump’s foreign policy? As they said in the Seinfeld episode, “not bloody likely!” Haley expressed these views long before Trump came along.

Three is ridiculous. There is no Republican Party, anymore, only the Trump Party. A president is seldom challenged for re-election. Truman was—from both sides—but that was because the public truly loved FDR, and no one could replace him. LBJ was challenged—but that’s because the public truly loved JFK, and no one could replace him, either. Reagan challenged Ford, but that’s because the public was disgusted with Nixon—and Ford pardoned him.

It is almost unheard of for a person with a viable political career to challenge a sitting president of his or her same party.

Likewise, it’s inconceivable that Haley was the “anonymous OP-Ed writer” who trashed Trump. It’s just not her style. And if that were the case, Trump would not have given her such a sendoff, with her gushing about him, as well.

The idea that Lindsay Graham would become Attorney General also seems far-fetched. Trump likes people he can control. That’s not Graham. Whenever the Senator disagrees with Trump, he says so, publicly–and vocally. Remember that when the party was going toward Trump in 2016, it was Graham who said, “my party has gone batsh*t crazy.”

That leaves only number two—that she is being investigated about a crime, and she wants to get out in front of that. What did she do? Molest a choir boy? Also not likely.

That leads us to an article in the Washington Examiner. No, it’s highly unlikely that Haley would challenge Trump, but might she challenge Mike Pence?

When U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley shocked the political world by abruptly announcing her resignation just weeks ahead of the midterm elections, speculation immediately spread that she planned to run against President Trump in 2020. But she isn’t going to run against Trump in 2020 — instead, the move sets her up nicely to run against Vice President Mike Pence in 2024.

Nothing about Haley’s move is consistent with what you’d expect if she decided to challenge a sitting president, even if we dismiss her assurances that she would not run in 2020 and would campaign for Trump instead. . .

Haley can carefully see how the Trump phenomenon ages, and position herself however she needs to once he exits the scene. As she gears up for 2024, if Trump’s brand has become more toxic, she can distance herself from his administration — saying first and foremost she was serving the nation as ambassador before the world. But if her association with Trump is a boost, she can play up the fact that she loyally served him.

Pence, on the other hand, has placed his bet entirely with Trump, for better or for worse. He has the claim of working more closely with Trump than anybody else. If that’s what the 2024 Republican electorate is craving, then it will give him an advantage. However, if by that time Republicans want somebody with more distance who isn’t necessarily seen as being anti-Trump (such as Sen. Ben Sasse), then it would give an edge to Haley.

That is a reasonable guess. Trump’s approval among Republicans is 87%. She has been seen as loyal, and their parting announcement was a love-fest. So if she wants to run in 2024, she can say she was his girl. But if people tire of his style (or lack-of-style), she could also show some daylight between herself and Trump. Look at the example of George Bush. He had one of he highest approval ratings of all time, due to 9/11, but people tired of him, and Trump actually ran against him.

It would not have been surprising if Haley had resigned two months ago.

Nikki Haley slapped back hard at White House minions after they first suggested that her announcement of new sanctions against Russia was premature and then said it might have been the result of “momentary confusion.”

She tweeted late Tuesday afternoon: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”. . .

Then on Sunday, a forceful Haley said on CBS’ Face the Nation that more sanctions against Russia. . . would be forthcoming on Monday.

Instead, when Monday rolled around, Press Secretary and Walker-Back-in-Chief Sarah Huckabee Sanders disarmed that threat, saying: “We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future.”

And Tuesday, the Palm Beach White House sent out new chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow to opine that Haley had gotten “ahead of the curve.”

It’s possible that that episode was the “last straw,” but she didn’t want to look like she was resigning in protest. Two months later, she can say she’s just tired of the job and wants to “spend more time with her family” (as they all say when they have no other choice). Her actions in the next few months will probably tell us what’s going on.

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Goethe Behr is a Contributing Editor and Moderator at Election Central. He started out posting during the 2008 election, became more active during 2012, and very active in 2016. He has been a political junkie since the 1950s and enjoys adding a historical perspective.

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