The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, denounced journalist Michael Wolff’s  “disgusting,” “highly offensive,” and sexist allegations that she has been sleeping with President Donald Trump. Wolff’s “rampant” behavior, Haley said, spreads “lies” “for money and power.” In a podcast that was released on Friday, Ambassador Haley told Politico reporter Eliana Johnson that she is calling on men and women to “stand up and say this is wrong” in a reference to the notion that women sleep their way to power. Rumors like these, Haley stated, “only makes me fight” and “work harder.” 

Referring to the January 19 edition of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, reporter Johnson referred to what she called Wolff’s “pretty salacious allusion” that Trump was having an affair. Johnson called out Wolff for lacking “the cojones to make it in his book or outright,” choosing instead to call on people to “read between the lines...toward the end of the book.” The relevant passage in Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury,” noted that Trump and Haley “had been spending a notable amount of private time” together “on Air Force One.”

“If you look at what Mike — and I have said this before, it amazes me what people will do and the lies they will say for money and power and, in politics, it’s rampant....I have literally been on Air Force One once and there were several people in the room when I was there,” she added. Haley said that Wolff’s spreading of the rumor points to a problem that “goes to a bigger issue...I’ve noticed that if you speak your mind and you’re strong about it and you say what you believe, there is a small percentage of people that resent that and the way they deal with it is to try and throw arrows, lies or not to diminish you.”

Politico’s Johnson spoke to what she called the “hurtful and damaging” stereotype that a “successful woman...has to sleep her way to the top.” In response, Haley said that she has seen the stereotype at work in South Carolina and the United Nations. She said, “I see them do it to other women and the thing is when women work, they prioritize, they focus, and they believe, if you’re going to do something, do it right and others see that as either too ambitious or stepping out of line and the truth is we need to continue to do our job and if they consider it stepping out of line, fine.”

“Any time this has happened, it only makes me fight harder. It only makes me work harder and I do it for the sake of other women that are behind me because they should never think that they have to put their head down and cower out of fear that someone’s going to do something to you,” Haley concluded.

Here follows a partial transcript of their conversation on Politico Podcast’s “Women Who Rule”:

ELIANA JOHNSON: So, I want to ask you about a pretty salacious allusion that Michael Wolff, the author of the now famous or infamous Fire and Fury book, didn’t quite have the cajones to make it in his book or outright, but he told the comedian and television host Bill Maher that he’s pretty sure — not sure enough to write in his book that the President is having an affair and that close readers of his book would be able to figure out who the President is having an affair with. So, Wolff writes in the book that: “The President had been spending a notable amount of private time with Haley [that’s Nikki Haley] on Air Force One and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future.” I don’t think you exactly have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what he’s insinuating, but I’d like to get your response to that insinuation. 

AMB. NIKKI HALEY: It is absolutely not true. It is highly offensive and it’s disgusting. You know, if you look at what Mike — and I have said this before, it amazes me what people will do and the lies they will say for money and power and, in politics, it’s rampant. But here you have a man who’s basically saying I’ve been spending a lot of time on Air Force One. I have literally been on Air Force One once and there were several people in the room when I was there. He says that I’m talking a lot with the President in the Oval about my political future. I have never talked once to the President about my future and I am never alone with him, so the idea that these things come out, that’s a problem. But it goes to a bigger issue that we need to always be conscious of: At every point in my life, I’ve noticed that if you speak your mind and you’re strong about it and you say what you believe, there is a small percentage of people that resent that and the way they deal with it is to try and throw arrows, lies or not to diminish you and I think women have dealt with this a long time. I don’t think it’s just in politics. I think it’s in corporate and I think it’s in all aspects, but there is that — for the most part, most men respect women. But there is a small group of men that, if you just do your job and you try and do it well, and you’re outspoken about it, they resent it. And they think the only option is to bring you down.

JOHNSON: So I wanted to ask you about this sort of type of rumor, which I think falls into a certain category, which is that of the successful woman who has to sleep her way to the top, which I think is hurtful and damaging, but how do you, as a powerful woman, probably the most, I think, visible and outspoken woman in the President’s cabinet, handle those types of rumors. I don’t anybody would call that assault in a formal way, but it is a real challenge that strong women, I think, face in the work place.

HALEY: You know, I hope that other women stand up and say this is wrong. I hope other men stand up and say this is wrong. I hope the media doesn’t let this blow up because this isn’t something that’s just happened as a cabinet member. I saw this as a legislator. I saw this when I was Governor. I see it now. I see them do it to other women and the thing is when women work, they prioritize, they focus, and they believe, if you’re going to do something, do it right and others see that as either too ambitious or stepping out of line and the truth is we need to continue to do our job and if they consider it stepping out of line, fine and if that means they’re going to throw stones, people see lies for what it is. Do I like it? No. Is it right? No. Is it going to slow me down? Not at all. Any time this has happened, it only makes me fight harder. It only makes me work harder and I do it for the sake of other women that are behind me because they should never think that they have to put their head down and cower out of fear that someone’s going to do something to you. If you’re doing the right thing, you always win at the end of the day.
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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