Nikki Haley blasts Trump for relationship with Putin after Navalny’s death

By Thomson Reuters Feb 16, 2024 | 10:16 AM

By Gram Slattery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley slammed Donald Trump on Friday for maintaining an amiable relationship with Vladimir Putin, after Russian officials said opposition leader Alexei Navalny died in a prison colony on Friday.

“Donald Trump continues to side with Vladimir Putin – a man who kills his political opponents, holds American journalists hostage, and has never hidden his desire to destroy America,” Haley said in a statement.

Trump has praised Putin on and off for years, calling the Russian leader a “genius” in 2022 for his decision to invade neighboring Ukraine, igniting a war that is still raging.

The 47-year-old lawyer, whose death was reported by the Russia prison service, rose to prominence more than a decade ago by speaking publicly about what he said was the vast corruption and opulence among the “crooks and thieves” who ran Putin’s Russia.

Many Western leaders accused the Kremlin of murder regarding Navalny. They produced no evidence, but Putin’s enemies have a history of dying under opaque circumstances.

A representative for Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Biden’s reelection campaign on Friday released a new minute-long advertisement blasting Trump for wanting to “walk away” from NATO and accusing him of giving “Putin and Russia the green light to attack America’s allies.”

Over the weekend, the former president drew swift rebukes from Western leaders for saying that he would encourage Putin to invade NATO member states that were not spending enough on defense.

Haley’s comments come as she has ratcheted up her criticism of Trump, in a bid to eat into the former president’s overwhelming lead in all national and state-level primary polls. In recent weeks, she has unleashed acid attacks on his character and his mental competency, and blasted him for cozying up to dictators.

In a separate post on X, formerly Twitter, Haley blamed Putin for Navalny’s death and took another jab at Trump.

“Putin did this,” she wrote. “The same Putin who Donald Trump praises and defends.”

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; editing by Ross Colvin and Jonathan Oatis)