Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to subvert President Trump’s wishes and justified their actions as trying to “save the country,” former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley says.
In a her new book, “With All Due Respect,” Haley recalls a closed-door meeting with Tillerson and Kelly where they ask her to join their effort to counter Trump.
“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley wrote, according to CBS News, which got an advance copy of the new tome.
“Tillerson went on to tell me the reason he resisted the president’s decisions was because, if he didn’t, people would die.”
The men explained that they knew better than Trump, Haley said.
“It was their decisions, not the president’s, that were in the best interests of America, they said. The president didn’t know what he was doing,” Haley wrote, according to another except obtained by The Washington Post.
Tillerson was fired by Trump in March 2018 by tweet. Haley resigned as United Nations ambassador in October 2018 and got a friendly farewell from the president. Kelly left the White House in December 2018.
Haley said she was offended that Tillerson and Kelly would try to undermine Trump.
“It absolutely happened,” Haley said in a CBS News interview about the book. “And instead of saying that to me, they should’ve been saying that to the president, not asking me to join them on their sidebar plan. It should’ve been, ‘Go tell the president what your differences are, and quit if you don’t like what he’s doing.’
“But to undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing. And it goes against the Constitution, and it goes against what the American people want. And it was offensive.”
Haley describes Tillerson as “exhausting” and said Kelly found it “terrible” that she had Cabinet-level access to Trump, the Washington Post reports.
Tillerson didn’t respond to a request for comment from CBS News. But Kelly replied: “If by resistance and stalling she means putting a staff process in place … to ensure the (president) knew all the pros and cons of what policy decision he might be contemplating so he could make an informed decision, then guilty as charged.” The two former officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about the articles.
Haley remains a Trump loyalist — especially on impeachment — but she airs a few disagreements.
She wrote in her book that she privately expressed concerns to Trump after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in 2018. And she took issue with Trump, saying “both sides” had been to blame for the violence at a white supremacist march in Charlotteville that killed one counter demonstrator.
“A leader’s words matter in these situations. And the president’s words had been hurtful and dangerous,” Haley wrote. “I picked up the phone and called the president.”
The daughter of Indian immigrants also didn’t agree with Trump’s tweets against members of the liberal freshmen “squad” to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
“No, it’s not appropriate,” Haley told CBS. “But I also can appreciate where he was coming from, from the standpoint of, don’t bash America over and over and over again and not do something to try and fix it.”
Haley’s book will be released Tuesday.
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