United States envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s comments sparked a controversy on Sunday when she said that Russia was “certainly involved” in the 2016 presidential elections in the US that led to Donald Trump’s victory, ABC News reported. The statement contradicts the Republican president’s stance on the matter.

“Certainly, I think Russia was involved in the election. There’s no question about that,” Haley told ABC News. “We don’t want any country involved in our elections ever. And so once that information comes out, I expect that that will be handled accordingly.”

Haley said the Trump administration had never tried to stop her from criticising Russia. “The president has not once called me and said don’t beat up on Russia,” she told the news channel.

Russia’s role in the presidential election has been speculated since the run up to the elections. Haley had said she differed with Trump on Russia. Trump had publicly said he respects Russian President Vladimir Putin and regarded him as a better leader than his predecessor Barack Obama. However, Trump has continuously dismissed reports of Moscow’s influence on him as “fake news”.

In January, Haley had said that it was necessary for the Donald Trump administration to “show them [Russia] what this new administration is going to be”. It is necessary to stand up to Moscow because of its actions in the ongoing Syrian civil war, she said, according to Reuters. Haley, however, had acknowledged that the US needed Russia’s help to fight the Islamic State group.

On February 13, Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had resigned after reports emerged that he had discussed the country’s sanctions with Russia. In March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had said that he was recusing himself from all investigations related to Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential elections. Sessions’ announcement followed reports that he had met with the Russian ambassador during Trump’s election campaign.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley had endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican primaries held before the presidential elections. She had criticised Trump in her response to Obama’s State of the Union address.