Ex-White House aide targets Haley for choosing to ‘bend the knee’ to Trump

Sarah Matthews, an ex-spokesperson for former President Trump, criticized former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley for choosing to “bend the knee” and vote for her former boss.

“She was building momentum, and she really could have been, maybe in a post-Trump Republican Party, been the leader, but instead, she chooses to bend the knee, kiss the ring, like every other Republican seems to do,” Matthews said Sunday in an interview with MSNBC’s Jen Psaki.

“I mean, Donald Trump said it best: They always bend the knee. And it’s just disappointing, but again, not surprising,” she added, referencing the former president’s comments after securing the endorsement of House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) in January.

Haley, who ran the most successful challenge to Trump and outlasted all of the other GOP primary contenders, said last week she’ll vote for the former president over President Biden in November.

Since then, several former Trump aides and Republicans have criticized her for the decision. Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said she had “no backbone,” and former Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) called the decision “pathetic.”

Matthews was among some of the most vocal former Trump supporters who wanted to see Haley take on Biden in the fall.

Many have argued that her decision to back Trump, someone she sharply criticized throughout her campaign and who targeted her with his attacks, was made to secure her political future. Even with her announcement last week, Matthews isn’t sure Trump’s fan base would ever support the former South Carolina governor.

She also noted she never expected Haley to outwardly endorse Biden, but she could have declined to support the 45th president.

“She has criticized Donald Trump time and time again,” Matthews said. “It goes all the way back to 2016 and she’s flip-flopped numerous times on it.”

“And so, I think they have already rejected her,” she added, referencing the former president’s loyalists.

Haley, who suspended her campaign in March, initially refused to give the presumptive GOP nominee her endorsement. Instead, she said Trump would have to earn the support of her voters.

Her announcement last week was largely seen as a reversal of her position.

Matthews argued that Haley’s supporters were “really excited” to see her challenge Trump. But, she added, it’s unknown if those voters will follow her lead and give the former president their support — or steer clear of him entirely.

Haley’s decision, the former Trump aide said, “creates this permission structure for those kinds of normie Republicans then to follow her.”

“And … in an election that’s going to be decided on the margins, even if it’s not the majority of those supporters, just having those few who might then end up following her and supporting Donald Trump could make the difference in some of those key battleground states,” she added.

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