America’s ambassador to the United Nations rebuked a fellow Trump aide’s suggestion that she was “confused” in announcing new sanctions on Russian firms.
“With all due respect, I don’t get confused”, ambassador Nikki Haley told Fox News.
Her comment was a response to National Economic Council chairman Larry Kudlow’s saying earlier in the day that Ms Haley “got ahead of the curve”.
“There might have been some momentary confusion about that,” Mr Kudlow told reporters.
The administration has sent mixed messages about imposing additional sanctions in recent days.
While Ms Haley on Sunday pointed to imminent penalties on Russian businesses connected to Syria’s chemical weapons programme, subsequent reports said Donald Trump had not yet decided whether to sign off on new sanctions.
“The President has been clear that he’s going to be tough on Russia. But at the same time, he’d still like to have a good relationship with them”, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the day after Ms Haley’s initial comment, adding that “we’re continuing to evaluate a number of sanctions”.
In announcing joint military strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities with the UK and France, Mr Trump specifically lambasted Russia for its support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, saying “Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path, or if it will join with civilised nations as a force for stability and peace”.
But Mr Trump has also repeatedly professed admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin and has cast doubts on intelligence assessments that Mr Putin directed a broad offensive intended to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.
Earlier this year the administration delayed imposing congressionally mandated sanctions on Russia for election meddling.