Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, announced her resignation Tuesday.
The announcement came in the Oval Office, where Haley sat side-by-side with President Donald Trump.
"She's done a fantastic job and we've done a fantastic job together. We've solved a lot of problems and we're in the process of solving a lot of problems," Trump said.
"She told me probably six months ago, 'You know maybe at end of the year -- at the end of the two year period -- but by the end of the year I want to take a little time off, I want to take a break,'" he added.
But CNN reports that's not true. A source familiar with the situation told the network Haley only notified Trump of her move last week and did not tell Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or national security adviser John Bolton, both of whom were surprised by the abrupt announcement.
According to CNN, officials inside the West Wing were caught off-guard as well.
The resignation comes as sources say Haley “lost clout” with Trump in recent months. Haley was a go-to adviser for the president after the departure of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but she has since been pushed aside in favor of Pompeo and Bolton.
Trump has not announced a successor but said he plans to in the coming weeks. One name that has been rumored is U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. Grenell is a far-right online troll who quickly sparked controversy in his current position when he told Breitbart in June that he wants to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe.”
"What this man is doing is unheard of in international diplomacy. If a German ambassador were to say in Washington that he is there to boost the Democrats, he would have been kicked out immediately,” former German official Martin Schulz said of Grenell.
Grenell would be a far cry from Haley, who rejected some of the president's worse instincts. When Trump praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan amid his crackdown on democratic institutions, Haley slammed the country's human rights abuses. When Trump continued to cozy up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Haley called out Russia's role in propping up the murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
As more moderate voices like Haley, Tillerson, and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster have left the administration, they have been replaced by Trump enablers like Pompeo and Bolton.
While Tillerson rejected Trump's plan to pull out of the Iran deal, Pompeo was much more supportive of the move, which came just weeks after Tillerson's abrupt departure. Pompeo has repeatedly echoed Trump's brags about the success of the talks with North Korea, despite numerous reports debunking their claims of any progress toward denuclearization or any actual concessions.
Bolton, who replaced the steady McMaster, came in with a long history of being an alarmist Russia hawk. But just weeks after he joined the White House, his boss stood next to Putin and declared that he believes his denial about Russia's meddling in the 2016 elections over his own intelligence agencies.
What differentiated Haley was her willingness to stand up to the president. When White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow accused her of being “confused” about Trump's plan on Russia, Haley publicly shot back, “I don't get confused.” Kudlow later apologized. Haley has broken with Trump on Putin, backed the Mueller probe, and said the women accusing her boss of sexual misconduct “should be heard.”
These are qualities unlikely to be found in whoever Trump taps to replace her. In fact, another name that has been floated as a possible replacement is the president's daughter Ivanka. The New York Times even previously speculated that Ivanka could become the UN ambassador if Haley had replaced Tillerson when he was pushed out.
“We’ve already passed the nepotism Rubicon, with Ivanka and Jared serving in amorphous White House roles in a manner that would have been unthinkable as recently as two years ago,” wrote European Council on Foreign Relations fellow Richard Gowan in Politico. “So why not install Ivanka as U.N. ambassador?”