The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is pushing back against a suggestion by President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser that she was confused over possible new sanctions targeting Russia.
The comments by Nikki Haley on April 17 came just two days after she said in a television interview that new sanctions on Russia would be announced on April 16 over Moscow's backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The purported punitive measures, however, did not materialize, and the White House later walked back Haley’s statement. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Washington was "considering additional sanctions on Russia, and a decision will be made in the near future."
The Washington Post and Reuters cited unidentified sources, including a senior administration official, as saying Trump had delayed imposing the sanctions the same day as Haley's comments.
Speaking to reporters on April 17, Trump's chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Haley "got ahead of the curve" and that "there might have been some momentary confusion."
But Haley fired back, telling Fox News following Kudlow's remarks: "With all due respect, I don't get confused."
Kudlow later called Haley to apologize, The New York Times reported.
"She was certainly not confused," Kudlow was quoted as telling the newspaper in a telephone interview. "I was wrong to say that -- totally wrong."
"As it turns out, she was basically following what she thought was policy. The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it, so she was in a box," Kudlow added, The New York Times reported.
Trump has long advocated closer cooperation with Russia, while at the same time saying he has been tough on Moscow over its expansionism and interference in Ukraine, its alleged meddling in U.S. politics, and its support for Assad.
Trump has maintained the sanctions against Russia put in place by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and has targeted Moscow with several more rounds of sanctions since he took office in January 2017.
Some critics in Congress, however, have accused him of not going far enough to punish Russia.
Moscow has repeatedly denounced U.S. and EU sanctions, calling them "unfriendly" and counterproductive.