On Wednesday, September 12, on Special Report with Bret Baier (Fox News Channel, M-F 6-7 PM ET), host Baier interviewed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley live in New York. Ambassador Haley offered a strong defense of President Donald Trump and answered Baier’s questions about the administration’s foreign policy. She also commented on reports that former Secretary of State John Kerry is freelancing private discussions of sensitive U.S. foreign policy issues with foreign leaders.
Fox News provided a transcript of their conversation. A video of the 9-minute interview is here.
Fox News’s article about the interview can be read here.
UN AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY: Iran is absolutely the spoiler in Syria. We see that they’re trying to be a threat to Israel. They’re creating proxy wars all over the Middle East and it’s all the reason why we got out of the Iran deal — is because we were funneling a lot of money to let them continue these bad aspects and now we’re saying we cut them off. I think it was August 7th; we put sanctions back on them. November 5th we’re going to hit their oil, we’re going to hit their foreign banks, and so they’re really going to start to feel it. But I think at the end of the day what you’re seeing is nothing is going to fix Iran until Iran fixes itself.
BRET BAIER, HOST OF SPECIAL REPORT: Have you heard whether John Kerry or others are saying wait this president out on policy?
HALEY: They can wait this president out, but this president is what saved us with this policy. Because otherwise, within just a few years, they would have gotten all this money and it would have been lifted anyway. At least President Trump is saying, we can’t wait until then. We have to do something about it now. Iran is feeling the pain. They feel weak and we are suffocating them to the point that they have to address ballistic missiles, they have to address their support on terrorism.
BAIER: Is there any chance that if it’s too constrictive, that Iran somehow becomes a failed state and that becomes another problem for you all?
HALEY: Our focus right now is on the Iranian people. I mean, they have protested, they have spoken out, they have said they want a better life and I think our main focus is obviously on the Iranian regime as well as the IRGG specifically and I think that they have to make a decision. But at the end of the day, we can’t allow them to have any nuclear programs.
BAIER: At the same time, in Syria, this seems like it’s coming to a head, in the Idlib and what is the latest? I mean, is there a fear that chemical weapons are going to be used? I mean, do you really believe that that’s heading down that road?
HALEY: Well, we’ve had three meetings in the Security Council on Syria alone and one was by all the members of the Security Council trying to ask about what’s going to happen in Idlib, because we all heard the rumors of chemical weapons. We saw the actions that have happened before, where they claim it’s the White Helmet. So they claim it’s other volunteers that are getting ready to stage some attacks when they actually do it. So the sternest warnings came down from most members of the Security Council, telling them that not just chemical weapons would be addressed by the United States and our allies, but any offensive on the civilian people in Idlib was going to be dealt with.
BAIER: We’ve seen the president take military action before, if another red line is crossed, is that expected?
HALEY: Well, what we told, you know, the Syrians, the Russians and the Iranians was, well, twice — we have warned you not to use chemical weapons; twice you have used it and twice President Trump has acted. Don’t test us again. Because I think the odds are very much against them.
BAIER: Next week is the United Nations General Assembly. The president will deliver a speech. What’s the main message in not only his speech, but in the meetings that you’ll have on Assad?
HALEY: You know, I think he’s actually done a lot on foreign policy, but in different ways. If you look at what he’s done with North Korea and it’s really led the international community to isolate North Korea to where they decide, you know, they realize they have a decision to make. He led on the fact that he pulled out of the Iran Deal, forcing the entire world to admit the fact that Iran was not behaving properly.
He’s led in Syria to make sure that chemical weapons are not being used and he’s warned against them being used again. I think if you look in the western hemisphere, which we’ve spent the last few weeks focused on and whether it’s Venezuela or Nicaragua, the messages are being sent that we’re not going to support dictators. We are no longer going to give money to people who are against the U.S. or say “Death to America” or do anything that would be anti-U.S.
We are now going to strategically start to work with our friends and we are no longer going to be handouts for those that go against us.
BAIER: Speaking of that, the Palestinian aid pulled back, the PLO kicked out of Washington — is there still a hope that by doing the hard, you know, stick approach with the Palestinians, that they’re somehow going to turn around?
HALEY: Totally up to the Palestinians at this point. Because if the leadership of the Palestinians came to the table, automatically you’re going to have a peace plan, negotiations are going to happen — neither side is going to like it, but the Palestinians have more to gain than Israel ever will.
And so all they have done is had their hand out asking for money, badmouth the United States, not come to the table on the peace deal — why would we have a PLO office? Why would we continue to fund the Palestinians? This isn’t going to stop our work on the peace deal. We’re moving forward; we’re going to continue to push it. We’re going to continue to hope that they see the error of what they’ve done and they come back to the table and we’ll welcome them when they do.
BAIER: You mentioned Venezuela and the actions the administration has already taken. The New York Times had an Op Ed yesterday saying, stay out of Venezuela, Mr. Trump. President Maduro needs to go, but an American-backed coup is not the answer. Your response to that Op Ed and what the U.S. is doing with Venezuela?
HALEY: Well, I’m not going to address rumors about a coup and I think even if you look at those articles, you’ll see that they admit that the U.S. was not involved in a coup. What I will tell you is Maduro needs to go and I was on the Venezuelan border about a month ago and I saw literally a million people cross that border every day for their only meal. You had people bringing their last possessions to sell in Colombia, just to buy food. And this is all because of failed Socialism that led to corruption, a dictatorship and poverty. Inflation is about to hit the one million percent mark there.
I mean, to say that the U.S. should stay out — what we’ve done is we’ve sent money in. The hard part is Maduro will not take any foreign assistance or foreign aid and the aid that his government does accept in — they’re stealing and skimming off the people, selling it on the black market and the people are getting nothing. I mean, this is something that you can’t look the other way and say, oh, let the Venezuelans deal with it — because when you have migration like that, it affects multiple countries. And then it’s a problem for all of us.
BAIER: Right. I mentioned the failed state possibility earlier, but I mean, this seems like it’s heading down that road.
HALEY: It’s heading down a bad road. I mean, we’re seeing this in Venezuela; now we’re seeing it in Nicaragua and the one thing that we have to see is the region really needs to step up. They can’t just condemn, they have to actually take actions and I’ve also said and we’ve said recently in the Security Council, anyone that does business with Maduro or Ortega, you are actually hurting the people of those countries.
BAIER: I had President Ortega on the show recently and I pressed him about what’s happening with these militias that are attacking not only police officers, but local citizens. Take a listen real quick.
[Excerpt of Baier’s interview with Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega]
RECORDED BAIER: If you aren’t funding and arming these paramilitary groups, who is?
RECORDED ORTEGA/INTERPRETER: Some are financed with drug trafficking. Others have tried to obtain financing from different organizations, even in the United States — organizations, programs and activities. And they have funds and those funds are then used to train paramilitary groups.
BAIER: Basically saying, wasn’t him.
HALEY: Ortega and Maduro are cut from the same cloth. They are making money off of their people. They don’t care if they are starving. They don’t care what they do. Ortega is now not only just gone after what they claim are militia groups; they’re going after the Catholic Church. They’re burning down churches. They’re going after the clergy. And the Catholic Church is the one that’s trying to fix the situation.
So I mean, what you have in both of these countries are dictators that have gotten high on the power. They’ve gotten rich off the money and the people are suffering. And the region needs to get in and stop this.
BAIER: Today the president signed an executive order saying that if any country or state actor or person goes after the election security, that the U.S. essentially will go after them –Your thoughts on that?
HALEY: Straight shot across the bow. To anyone that wants to mess with our midterm elections, get involved in our midterm elections; use any kind of fraud — the president is saying, if you do it, you will pay.
BAIER: Last thing. You were one of the people who put out a statement saying you were not the Anonymous Op Ed writer. You even wrote an Op Ed about that. Do you think that person will be found? And if so, what happens to him or her?
HALEY: I don’t know if we’ll ever know who the anonymous writer is. The reason I felt compelled to respond is — I was a governor; I had a cabinet, I had senior officials around me. We were a team and we had to work together. And if one undermines the team, they hurt everybody. And what I can tell you is, everything that the anonymous writer wrote, that hasn’t been my experience. I have — I speak with the president whenever I want. I meet with him. If I have an issue I disagree, we discuss it. He listens.
Sometimes he changes his mind, sometimes he doesn’t. But I’ll tell you this: My experiences have been respectful, they’ve been good and this is a president on a mission.
BAIER: Ambassador Haley, thanks so much for your time and we’ll see you at the United Nations General Assembly next week.
HALEY: Thanks, Bret.