United States U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, right, speaks during United Nations Security Council meeting on North Korea's latest launch of an intercontinental...
Bebeto Matthews

Haley points to cabinet secretaries who saw Trump as dangerous

Updated

Nikki Haley has caused quite a stir with a claim in her new book, which includes a provocative claim about some of her former colleagues in Donald Trump’s cabinet.

Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, claims in a new book that two of his top advisers tried to “undermine” the president to “save the country.”

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, was asked by “CBS Evening News” about a passage from her new book, “With All Due Respect,” in which she claims that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House chief of staff John Kelly tried to recruit her into that effort. She says she refused. The Washington Post also reported on the exchange. NBC News has not independently verified the passage.

“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 in the book. “Tillerson went on to tell me the reason he resisted the president’s decisions was because, if he didn’t, people would die.”

The former South Carolina governor didn’t back down when asked about this on CBS, insisting that the scene she described “absolutely happened.” Haley added that what Tillerson and Kelly had in mind was “offensive” and “very dangerous.”

In other words, two leading members of the president’s cabinet urged Haley to prioritize the nation’s interests over Trump’s; Haley ignored them; and she apparently now believes this is all worthy of boast.

This has sparked all kinds of political chatter. Maybe, some pundits have suggested, Haley is angling to replace Mike Pence as the president’s 2020 running mate. Maybe she’s solidifying her position as a Trump acolyte ahead of the 2024 race.

And while those questions are worth kicking around, let’s not miss the forest for the trees: according to one of the president’s former cabinet-level ambassadors, two of her powerful colleagues believed Trump was so radically incompetent that there needed to be an administrative check on his poor judgment.

Or put another way, we’re now learning that two men handpicked by the president for his team saw Trump as dangerous to the United States and its interests. In fact, they were so concerned about Trump’s ineptitude that they reached out to at least one of their colleagues, shared their fears, and sought partners in their bid to “resist” the president’s misguided orders.

To be sure, there’s room for debate about the propriety about what Tillerson and Kelly allegedly had in mind. In our constitutional system, we’re not supposed to have cabinet secretaries substituting their judgment for an elected president’s.

But between Haley’s book and the upcoming “warning” from Anonymous, Americans are confronting the painful realization that some of the officials closest to Donald Trump have concluded he’s unfit to lead.