“She was certainly not confused,” Mr. Kudlow said in a brief interview. “I was wrong to say that — totally wrong.”
“As it turns out, she was basically following what she thought was policy,” Mr. Kudlow added. “The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it, so she was in a box.”
On Monday, White House officials said Mr. Trump had not yet decided whether to impose sanctions on Russian companies found to be aiding Syria’s chemical weapons program. That contradicted Ms. Haley, who had said a day earlier that the president would take that step.
Mr. Kudlow declined to say when the decision on Russia sanctions was changed, saying only: “She was following policy as she knew it. The policy got changed late, and she wasn’t told.”
Mr. Kudlow was the first senior White House official to place the blame directly on Ms. Haley, and he did so at a briefing on an unrelated topic, Mr. Trump’s two days of meetings with Mr. Abe here.
Asked to explain the discrepancy between her and the administration at that briefing, Mr. Kudlow said, “The issue here is, we have a set of sanctions, and additional sanctions are under consideration but not been determined.”
“If you talk to Steve Mnuchin at Treasury, and so forth, he will tell you the same thing,” Mr. Kudlow said, referring to the Treasury secretary. “They are in charge of this.”