It's not clear whether it was caused by crossed wires or an administration flip-flop, but Nikki Haley's back-and-forth with the White House over Russia sanctions appears to have exposed a fault line. After the administration denied that a decision had been made on sanctions Haley announced Sunday—with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow claiming Haley "got ahead of the curve" and may have been suffering from "momentary confusion"—Haley fired right back, the BBC reports. "With all due respect, I don't get confused," she said in a statement to Fox. Kudlow tells the New York Times that he was "totally wrong" to call Haley confused and he later called her to apologize. He says policy changed and Haley wasn't told, so she was "in a box."
Sources tell the AP that the sanctions were planned as a way to hit back against Russia's expected retaliation for strikes on Syria—and Haley was not informed when officials decided to hold off on sanctions in light of the milder-than-expected Russian response. An insider tells the Times that President Trump's relationship with Haley has become increasingly strained in recent months, and he yelled at the TV when he saw Haley announce the sanctions. Aaron Blake at the Washington Post, who calls Haley's remarks an "extraordinary rebuke" of the White House, suspects Trump reversed course on Russia sanctions to defy advisers and assert his authority. "Whatever the reasons, though, Haley made clear this was not handled well by the administration, and that it was not her fault," he writes. (Read more Nikki Haley stories.)