Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says she was on several occasions approached by former top aides of President Donald Trump, who asked her to undermine the Republican head of state.
Former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House chief of staff John Kelly were the two former senior advisers who tried to recruit her, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing an interview with the former UN envoy as well as Haley’s upcoming memoir.
“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.
“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,” she added.
In her book, Haley reportedly recalls how she clashed with Tillerson and Kelly during a White House meeting after suggesting that Washington should withhold funding for a UN agency that supports Palestinians.
She said her opinion was backed by Trump’s Middle East envoys but Kelly and Tillerson argued that cutting aid could expose Israel retaliation by Palestinian forces while also reducing US influence.
According to the report, Kelly later on told Haley that "I have four secretaries of state: you, H.R., Jared, and Rex. I only need one," she wrote, referring to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
“I was so shocked I didn’t say anything going home because I just couldn’t get my arms around the fact that here you have two key people in an administration undermining the president,” Haley told the Post.
She also accused Kelly of stalling when she requested a meeting with Trump and complained when she went around him to do so.
Tillerson did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.
Kelly, however, told the newspaper that if providing Trump "with the best and most open, legal and ethical staffing advice from across the [government] so he could make an informed decision is ‘working against Trump,’ then guilty as charged.”
"You encounter people who respect you for your skill and your knowledge and the work that you’re trying to do, and support you in that process. Or you encounter people who disregard you and see you as in the way. That would happen at times,” Haley told the Post.
Haley resigned from her position last year. Her memoir, titled “With All Due Respect,” is set to be published on Tuesday.
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