U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley managed to make a dignified departure from the Trump administration afterat the end of the year. "On behalf of the country I want to thank you for a great job," President Trump told her in the Oval Office Tuesday.
"She's done a fantastic job and we've done a fantastic job together," Mr. Trump added.
The announcement surprised many administration officials.
In her resignation letter, Haley revealed a clue about her next move, writing to the president: "I expect you will appreciate my sense that returning from government to the private sector is not a step down but a step up."
Recent financial disclosures reveal Haley is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, which could be alleviated by a lucrative private sector job, reports CBS News correspondent Paula Reid. Her office reportedly said her debts had no bearing on her decision to leave.
Haley said she has no intention of running in 2020. As for her replacement, former deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and former Connecticut senator and 2000 Al Gore running mate Joe Lieberman are under consideration.
Mr. Trump said Haley first brought up resigning six months ago. But top officials were caught off guard by the announcement including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.
Haley, one of the few high-profile women in the Trump Cabinet, has also been an outspoken voice for the president's foreign policy. Haley has backed Mr. Trump's hardline stances on Israel and Iran, which left her isolated at the U.N.
Last month, Haley slammed the anonymous colleague who wrote a critical op-ed in the New York Times. Haley said, "I don't agree with the president on everything. When there is disagreement, there is a right way and a wrong way to address it. I pick up the phone and call him or meet with him in person."
Haley thanked Mr. Trump and said being U.N. ambassador was "an honor of a lifetime."
Mr. Trump said he could name Haley's replacement in a few weeks, even suggesting someone very close to him.
"I think Ivanka would be incredible," Mr. Trump said.