Sunday, May 26

Haley Hits Trump on Border and His ‘Rants,’ Saying ‘He Feels Threatened’

Nikki Haley denounced former President Donald J. Trump in an interview on Sunday for his angry responses to his legal losses and suggested that his pressuring of congressional Republicans not to agree to a border-security deal before the election was a purely political ploy.

“The last thing he needs to do is tell them to wait to pass a border deal until the election,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” of Mr. Trump’s efforts to stop a bipartisan effort in the Senate that had been gaining momentum. “We can’t wait one more day.”

Ms. Haley also suggested that she trusted the conclusions of jurors who found him liable for sexual abuse, but refused to call the verdict disqualifying, saying voters should decide.

“I absolutely trust the jury, and I think that they made their decision based on the evidence,” Ms. Haley said, referring to the jury that found Mr. Trump liable last year for sexually abusing the writer E. Jean Carroll. A separate jury concluded last week that he owed Ms. Carroll more than $83 million for defaming her.

But when the show’s host, Kristen Welker, pressed Ms. Haley on whether she believed the jury findings were “disqualifying,” she deflected.

“We don’t need to take over anything that the American people have the right to do,” she said, adding, “I think the American people will take him off the ballot. I think that’s the best way to go forward, is not let him play the victim. Let him play the loser.”

Still, Ms. Haley teed off on Mr. Trump’s responses to the jury verdict to deliver a sharp critique of his state of mind and fitness for office.

The American people “see that he’s completely distracted, they see that he’s going on these rants about how he’s the victim, and I think that’s exactly what we don’t need a strong leader to be,” Ms. Haley said. “That’s not what you want a president to be, but more than that, that’s not what we want Russia to see, that’s not what we want China to see and that’s not what we want Iran to see.”

Ms. Haley, who served as United Nations ambassador during the Trump administration, framed Mr. Trump’s racist attacks against her in the same context. Referring to his repeated use and botching of her given name, Nimarata, and his false suggestions that she isn’t eligible to be president because her parents are from India (Ms. Haley was born in South Carolina), she said: “I laugh every time I see one of his tweets, every time I see him throw a temper tantrum, because I know Donald Trump very well. When he feels insecure, he starts to rail, he starts to rant, he starts to flail his arms and he starts to get upset.

“When he feels threatened, he starts to throw all kinds of things out there,” she continued. “I would always tell him he was his own worst enemy. He’s proving that right now.”

Ms. Haley also denounced the Republican National Committee for throwing its support behind Mr. Trump before most states have voted. Asked whether the R.N.C. had been an “honest broker” in the Republican primary, she said, “Clearly not,” criticizing the committee’s chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, for saying the party should unite behind Mr. Trump after his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“You can’t do that based on just two states,” she said.

Ms. Haley also sought to calibrate expectations for her performance in the South Carolina primary next month, saying that she didn’t think she had to win outright, but that she needed to exceed the 43 percent she received in New Hampshire.

“I need to show that I’m building momentum,” she said, adding: “Does that have to be a win? I don’t think that necessarily has to be a win. But it certainly has to be better than what I did in New Hampshire, and it certainly has to be close.”