Nikki Haley turns on former president

Despite hour after hour of arguments put forward by the impeachment managers, there is still a firm expectation that Donald Trump will be acquitted when the senators finally cast their votes.

The threshold for conviction is a supermajority of 67, which means at least 17 Republicans would need to vote against Mr Trump. There is no indication that anywhere near enough are contemplating doing so.

You might recall that on the first day of the trial, 44 Republicans voted that the whole thing was unconstitutional.

If Mr Trump is ultimately acquitted, that would leave him free to run for president again in 2024 – bad news, presumably, for any other Republicans who harbour presidential ambitions.

One of those Republicans is former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. Ms Haley publicly opposed Mr Trump’s candidacy during her party’s primaries in 2016, but went on to become one of his highest profile political allies, serving as his United Nations ambassador.

For some time, there was chatter in political circles that Mr Trump might replace then-vice president Mike Pence with Ms Haley on his ticket for the 2020 election. That obviously didn’t end up happening.

Anyway, Ms Haley has now spoken to Politico for a profile piece, and she’s used that interview to publicly break away from Mr Trump.

“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” she said.

“He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”

The “we” she’s referring to here is the Republican Party.

Ms Haley has opposed the impeachment trial, so she is not advocating for Mr Trump to be barred from seeking office again. In the interview, she made it clear she didn’t think he would run.

“He’s not going to run for federal office again,” said Ms Haley.

“I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”

Ms Haley’s intentions here are fairly obvious. She has long been spoken about as a potential presidential candidate, and is presumably working to set herself up for the 2024 race.

Will this help her? Who knows. Mr Trump is still the most popular figure by far among Republican voters, so denouncing his actions like this could conceivably hurt Ms Haley politically. It’s a gamble.

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