It didn’t take long for Nikki Haley, in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol insurrection, to denounce Donald Trump. The president’s actions since Election Day, the former South Carolina governor told a group of RNC members in a closed-door speech, “will be judged harshly by history.” That strong-worded prediction, which conveniently left out her own role in fanning the flames of those very actions, was likely enough to placate establishment Republicans in the room, once again burnishing Haley’s reputation as some kind of principled conservative.
But weeks later, as the conservative media ecosphere and the rest of her party have come out swinging against the upcoming impeachment proceedings, Haley appears eager to remind Republicans of another side of her rep: as one of the GOP’s most prominent Trump supporters.
During an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s show Monday night, Haley labeled both Trump’s behavior since losing the November election, as well as the murderous riot on January 6, as merely “not great”—a significant downgrade of her closed-door remarks, as if Trump had all but done an oopsie by inciting the very violence that left five people dead. “They beat him up before he got into office and they’re beating him up after he leaves office,” she went further, characterizing the impeachment trial as a signal that Democrats were not committed to unity. “I mean at some point, give the man a break. I mean, move on if you truly are about moving on.”
Here, in Haley’s estimation, Trump is the insurrection’s true victim and any attempt to hold him accountable is unnecessarily divisive. It’s a characteristically opportunistic ploy for Haley as more Republicans ditch the condemnation—or extend it so far as to render it completely meaningless—to once again come to Trump’s defense in the face of his second impeachment.