NEW YORK: Nikki Haley has said rumours that she is having an affair with Donald Trump are “highly offensive” and “disgusting”.
Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said the reports were symptomatic of the attacks powerful women frequently encounter.
Rumours of a tryst between Haley and the US president circulated after comments made by Michael Wolff, the author of an explosive book on life within the White House.
Wolff told an American TV network that he was “absolutely sure” Trump is having an extramarital affair, but said he omitted the claim from his book, Fire and Fury, because he was not able to substantiate it.
The comments led to speculation that he was referring to Haley, who, he writes, spends a “notable amount of private time” with Trump on Air Force One.
He added that the president was “seen to be grooming her for a national political future”. Haley has angrily responded to the claims, saying they are “absolutely not true”.
Haley is considered a rising star of the Republican party and has garnered a reputation for her combative style during her role as UN ambassador.
“I have literally been on Air Force One once and there were several people in the room when I was there,” she told Politico’s Women Rule podcast.
“I’ve never talked once to the president about my future and I am never alone with him.”
Haley added: “It goes to a bigger issue that we need to always be conscious of.”
“At every point in my life, I’ve noticed that if you speak your mind and you’re strong about it and you say what you believe, there is a small percentage of people that resent that and the way they deal with it is to try and throw arrows, lies or not.”
Haley said that she had encountered similar claims throughout her political career, including during her campaign to become governor of South Carolina.