It looks as though departing the UN has hit a snag for one former ambassador — losing more than a million Twitter followers. After she stepped down from her post at the end of 2018, Nikki Haley's official Twitter account was shut down in accordance with a State Department policy implemented by the Obama administration.
As per the State Department's Foreign Affairs Manual, political appointees have to retire their official government Twitter accounts after they leave office. The rule was established to prevent government officials from using their titles to amass a huge following — Haley's official Twitter had 1.67 million followers — and then continue to benefit from that following once they move on to the private sector.
Haley started a new, personal account (@NikkiHaley) in December. On Tuesday she publicized the change, tweeting, "Due to State Dept rules that were changed by the outgoing administration, I have had to clear my personal Twitter account that I have had for years. The followers, the history, the pictures, and all other content. Please refollow and retweet this to your friends. Here’s to 2019!"
As of Wednesday night, Haley's personal account had already gained 259,000 followers. Haley's account during her time as UN Ambassador (@AmbNikkiHaley) is still available on Twitter as a State Department digital archive.
President Trump announced Haley's resignation as UN ambassador in early October during an Oval Office press spray. "She told me probably six months ago, 'You know maybe at end of the year — at the end of the two year period — but by the end of the year I want to take a little time off, I want to take a break,'" Trump told reporters, with Haley sitting next to him.
He added that she would be welcome back into the administration in the future. "She's done a fantastic job and we've done a fantastic job together. We've solved a lot of problems and we're in the process of solving a lot of problems," he said.
According to CNN, most White House officials were caught off guard by the announcement, which came just four weeks before the midterm elections. Haley's rationale for leaving after less than two years on the job has also remained somewhat vague. In October, she called serving as ambassador the "honor of a lifetime," according to CNN, adding, "There's no personal reason. It's very important for government officials to understand when it's time to step aside."
Haley also shut down any speculation that she might be running to unseat President Trump in 2020, telling reporters, unprompted, in October, "No, I am not running for 2020."
"I can promise you what I'll be doing is campaigning for this one," she added, referring to President Trump, per CNN.
Haley's legacy at the UN is a mix of upholding traditional American viewpoints — for instance, delivering a consistent message on U.S. sanctions in Russia — and supporting the president's more isolationist perspective. Over the summer, Haley withdrew the United States from the UN Human Rights Council and cut U.S. funding from the UN Relief and Works Agency, which aids Palestinian refugees.
President Trump has proposed replacing Haley with Heather Nauert, a former Fox News personality and State Department spokesperson, pending Senate confirmation.