While few observers were particularly surprised at Nikki Haley’s revelation that former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were working against President Trump at times, some conservatives thought it was less-than-helpful for Haley to address this betrayal in a book instead of informing Trump that he had a problem on his hand at the time.
In her new book, “With All Due Respect,” Haley, the former ambassador to the UN, says that Kelly and Tillerson tried to justify their counter-Trump efforts to her by saying they were working towards the best interests of the country.
“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” she 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.”
In an interview with the Washington Post, Haley said, “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.”
But on Monday, several prominent conservatives wondered if Haley ever bothered letting President Trump know about this dissension.
“I have one question for Nikki Haley. Did you tell Trump what Kelly and Tillerson were doing, or did you save it for the book?” asked Rush Limbaugh on his radio program. “She’s published a book, and in the book the big leak is that she says that the chief of staff, Marine General John Kelly, and Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, sought to recruit her to subvert Trump, but that she kept all of this to herself until now, until her book!”
Others, like conservative writer Ryan Girdusky, found Haley’s account of the conversation doubtful.
“I find this very suspicious given that she had no control over foreign policy and Tillerson hated Haley. Famously even writing her a letter telling her to stop making foreign policy declarations without clearing it with him,” Girdusky tweeted.
For his part, Kelly told the Washington Post that if lending President Trump “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.”
And in a statement of his own, Tillerson denied the allegation altogether.
“During my service to our country as the Secretary of State, at no time did I, nor to my direct knowledge did anyone else serving along with me, take any actions to undermine the President,” Tillerson said. “My conversations with the President in the privacy of the Oval Office were always candid, frank, and my recommendations straightforward. Once the President made a decision, we at the State Department undertook our best efforts to implement that decision.”
We’re sure all parties involved have their own reasons for telling a particular shade of the truth, but since they’ve all since moved on to greener pastures, their accounts of palace intrigue amount to little more than idle gossip at this point. Hopefully, Trump has more confidence in his current crop of top advisers.