Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addressed questions on Monday that she faced after claiming over the weekend that former chief-of-staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson approached her and asked her to undermine President Donald Trump.
In an interview with CBS News over the weekend, Haley said:
Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country … Tillerson went on to tell me the reason he resisted the president’s decisions was because, if he didn’t, people would die. This was how high the stakes were, he and Kelly told me. We are doing the best we can do to save the country, they said. We need you to work with us and help us do it. This went on for over an hour.
It absolutely happened. 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 faced scrutiny from some prominent conservatives over her claims, including from radio host Rush Limbaugh, who responded to Haley’s quote on CBS News by saying, “Well, no kidding! Did you go tell the president, Nikki? I don’t know that anybody’s asked her that. Did you tell the president these guys were trying to subvert? Did you tell him that they were trying to undermine him? One is the chief of staff; the other one’s the secretary of state. Now, as I said, I was surprised. I was dead wrong about Tillerson. I’m not surprised about John Kelly. And I should have been more up to speed on Tillerson.”
Haley addressed the questions raised by Limbaugh and others during a Fox News appearance on Trump’s favorite show, “Hannity.”
“What has gotten a lot of people’s attention is the conversation about an hour: Rex Tillerson, General Kelly, and I guess tell that story, and out of it — I was wondering, ‘Why did you not feel, or did you at any point feel, a need to tell the president, ‘Hey, this is what these guys are doing’?” Sean Hannity asked.
“Well, I did tell the president. And, I mean, keep in mind, Sean, this is one page out of 250 pages of the book, but I did tell the president, and I did tell the National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster,” Haley responded. “And there were others that knew of my concerns in the process.”
“And let’s keep in mind — I mean, what I have said is this wasn’t that these guys thought this was a rogue president,” Haley continued. “This was that these guys disagreed with his policy. They disagreed with us getting out of the Paris Climate Agreement. They disagreed with us getting out of the Iran deal. They disagreed with moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, when the president was charting a different course, and really giving us a strong hand for America and for our friends, they just thought that he was going on in the wrong direction.”
“And so, when they sat me down that day, they were attempting to tell me that if I would work with them, they were trying to save America and keep people from dying,” Haley added. “But we saw, when the embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the sky is still up there. It didn’t fall, and we didn’t see casualties. What we saw was a courageous moment by the president that many presidents had tried before that was very successful. And it acknowledged a fact, which Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.”
Nikki Haley on whether she notified President Trump that Rex Tillerson and John Kelly were trying to undermine him: “I did tell the president. … this wasn’t that these guys thought this was a rogue president. This was that these guys disagreed with his policy.” pic.twitter.com/JGJmBJibSy
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 12, 2019