Ex-US envoy to UN Nikki Haley says top Trump aides tried to subvert him to 'save the country'

Former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley  wrote in her book  With All Due Respect that both then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House chief of staff John Kelly sought her help in undercutting or working around Mr Trump but s
Former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley wrote in her book With All Due Respect that both then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House chief of staff John Kelly sought her help in undercutting or working around Mr Trump but she refused. The book is due for release on Tuesday (Nov 12).PHOTO: WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Two top advisers to United States President Donald Trump ignored or undermined him because "they were trying to save the country", former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley writes in a new book.

She says both then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House chief of staff John Kelly sought her help in undercutting or working around Mr Trump but she refused, according to the Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the book, With All Due Respect, ahead of its Tuesday (Nov 12) release.

"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."

She said Mr Tillerson told her people would die if Mr Trump was not restrained.

BARELY SPEAKING

Ms Haley, a former South Carolina governor of Indian descent, left the UN job at the end of 2018 on good terms with Mr Trump. She has often been touted as a potential future Republican presidential candidate.

Mr Kelly left the White House a few weeks after Ms Haley, reportedly barely on speaking terms with Mr Trump. Earlier, in March 2018, the President fired Mr Tillerson - via Twitter - after the two repeatedly clashed.

In the book, Ms Haley supports many of the Trump foreign policy decisions that others in the administration opposed, including the unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement, as well as the decision to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But she also pointed to several disagreements with the President: Over his embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin when they met in Helsinki in 2017, and over Mr Trump's "moral equivalence" in suggesting there were good people on "both sides" after the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"The President's words had been hurtful and dangerous," she wrote, according to the Post.

 
 
 
 

In a CBS interview on Sunday, Ms Haley also said it was "not appropriate" for Mr Trump to have said that four Democratic members of Congress, all women of colour, should "go back" to their countries. All are US citizens.

'GUILTY AS CHARGED'

But while she did not always agree with Mr Trump, Ms Haley said people like Mr Kelly and Mr Tillerson had an obligation either to carry out his agenda or, if they could not do so, to quit.

"I just couldn't get my arms around the fact that here you have two key people in an administration undermining the President," she said.

In an interview with the Post in her publisher's New York office, Ms Haley dismissed House Democrats' moves to impeach Mr Trump over his pressure on the Ukrainian government to obtain political dirt on an opponent.

"Do I think it's not good practice to talk to foreign governments about investigating Americans? Yes. Do I think the President did something that warrants impeachment? No."

The Post said Mr Tillerson did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Kelly, for his part, said that if providing the President "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".

Ms Haley's memoir will be released a week before another, more critical, book by a White House insider - A Warning, written by an anonymous author described only as "a senior official in the Trump administration".

The Post, which also obtained an advance copy of that book, said it "paints a chilling portrait of the President as cruel, inept and a danger to the nation".

But early reviews say the book does not break much new ground about the President.