'Does he deserve to be impeached? Absolutely not.'
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley excused Donald Trump's incitement of the deadly insurrection at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, telling Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday night that Trump is the real victim of the attack.
Haley, a potential candidate for president in 2024, barely criticized the failed coup attempt that led to the deaths of a Capitol Police officer and four other people.
She told Ingraham Trump's actions were "not great." But, she said, "Does he deserve to be impeached? Absolutely not."
The insurrectionists themselves said they stormed the Capitol in response to Trump's words.
"I don't even think there's a basis for impeachment," Haley said.
"I mean, they beat him up before he got into office, they're beating him up after he leaves office. I mean, at some point, I mean, give the man a break. I mean, move on," she said.
Haley has waffled on her support for Trump before.
She did not support him in the 2016 presidential election, criticizing his style and choosing instead to endorse Sen. Marco Rubio.
But once Trump won, she joined his administration and excused his behavior. She defended him against his first impeachment in 2019, saying in an interview on NBC's "Today" show that Trump is "truthful."
The Washington Post calculates that Trump told 30,573 lies in his four years in office.
On Jan. 14, Haley launched a political action committee to support Republicans running for office in 2022, a first step many would-be candidates take before they announce presidential bids. She did not tout her support for Trump on her PAC website.
Now, less than a month after the insurrection, Haley is back on the Trump train, defending his actions.
Her comments on Monday brought a barrage of criticism.
"Nikki Haley is fully bought in on GOP grievance," conservative commentator Amanda Carpenter tweeted. "She thinks Donald Trump is the victim."
Sarah Longwell, a GOP strategist who worked to defeat Trump in 2020, also criticized Haley's comments, tweeting: "'What happened on January 6th was not great.' Not great? Trump lies about an election being stolen, incites [an] attack on the Capitol, a mob tries to overturn an election, 5 people die. @NikkiHaley thinks that’s *not great* and we should give Trump a break."
Polling shows that a majority of registered voters believe Trump should be convicted for his role in inciting the insurrection.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.