WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Donald Trump accepted the resignation of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley Tuesday, who said in her resignation letter that she was leaving public life for the private sector.
The announcement has stunned many politicos and media personalities as the big questions now linger:
And what does this mean for Haley's political future?
Haley said she planned on campaigning for President Trump, and will not challenge him in the 2020 presidential primary.
So what is going on?
Was she simply ready to step down from the role? Is she leaving this position to be groomed for a 2024 run? Will she be appointed to the U.S. Senate should Lindsay Graham be elevated to Trump's cabinet? Or is she being positioned for a bigger role in the White House?
Maybe a combination of these.
Nikki Haley's Rise to National Prominence
Nikki Haley, 46, was the first female governor elected in South Carolina, and is largely seen as a rising star in the Republican Party.
Haley's national stature grew after the 2015 massacre at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina (most commonly known as the Charleston Church Shooting), where 9 black churchgoers were killed by Dylan Roof, a white gunman who confessed to wanting to ignite a race war.
Not long after the massacre, Haley signed a bill that removed the Confederate flag from the grounds of the statehouse.
Although she is a member of the Trump Administration, Nikki Haley and Donald Trump have not always been political allies.
In fact, things got heated and bitter between the two during the 2016 presidential election.
One month after the election, though, Trump nominated her for the position of UN ambassador. Since then, the relationship between the two -- according to Trump and Haley -- has become more amicable.
An Abrupt Resignation
Courtesy: The Guardian
It seems few politicos or reporters knew the Haley resignation was coming. The decision was kept hush, hush, which as many reporters have commented, is hard to do in DC.
But on Tuesday, Trump and Haley sat together to discuss her resignation and side-by-side answered questions from reporters.
Trump said Haley did "an incredible job."
He also said she was a "fantastic person."
Haley, in turn, called her time at the UN a "blessing," and said of her decision that she believes in term limits and that government officials should recognize "when it’s time to step aside."
Nikki Haley addressed speculation that she was going to challenge Trump in the 2020 Republican primary.
She says she has no intention of running for president in the next election and will campaign for Trump.
The sudden announcement, along with the timing, has the political world abuzz.
Haley's Popularity Spans the Political Spectrum
It's hard to believe that Haley's political career is over. She is one of the most popular members of Trump's administration -- some sources suggesting she is the most popular member.
A Quinnipiac poll back in April -- granted, that was 5 months ago -- found that 63% of respondents gave her good grades for her job performance. This is 4 points higher than Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Even in the current political environment, 55% of Democratic respondents said they approved of the job she was doing in the same poll. Sixty-three percent (63%) of independent respondents agreed.
It seems highly unlikely that someone with these polling numbers would simply walk away from public life for good.
Haley could potentially mount the political infrastructure needed to be successful for higher office.
So What's Next?
It's important to note that because Haley didn't go into many details about what led her to the decision to step down, we are solely in speculative territory.
The remarks that she made, that government officials need to know when is the right time to step down, indicate that she could simply be burned out, and she wants to take a step back from public office at least for a little bit.
Yet speculation has already spread like wildfire over what other political maneuvering is transpiring.
Some suggest she could be appointed to the US Senate if Lindsay Graham gets a position in the Trump cabinet.
Others suggest she is going to build her political profile even more for a 2024 run. Some have even thrown out that Haley might be positioned for a bigger role in the White House.
We will see. Nikki Haley will not officially step down from her role until the end of the year. For now, the political world will simply be left stunned and full of questions.