2019-11-13 17:25:411 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Rex Tillerson (Image source: Public domain)
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Chief of Staff John F. Kelly are both disputing former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley’s claim in her new book that the two of them operated against Donald Trump’s wishes and asked her to do the same to “save 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,” Haley wrote in “With All Due Respect.” “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.”
Kelly commented that if providing the president “with the best 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.”
On Monday Tillerson added his voice as well in a statement to The Washington Post. “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,” he insisted.
“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,” he continued. “Ambassador Haley was rarely a participant in my many meetings and is not in the position to know what I may or may not have said to the president. I continue to be proud of my service as our country’s 69th secretary of state.”
Tillerson was secretary of state from February 1, 2017, through March 31, 2018, after being the CEO of ExxonMobil. He was fired by Trump and replaced by Mike Pompeo.
In Haley’s version of events, Tillerson and Kelly pressed for her to work with them after an Oval Office disagreement over U.N. funding for Palestinians. She charged that Tillerson told her people would die if they didn’t work against Trump.
A senior White House official who was present at the time has said that Haley’s passage about the meeting in her book is “absolutely accurate,” adding, “It’s 100 percent accurate, and it fits a pattern” of aides trying to override Trump.
Haley described Tillerson in the book as “arrogant and condescending” and noted that he resented her access to the president. “It was no secret that Rex and I had our differences,” she wrote. “He gave off the unmistakable impression that he knew more than everyone else in the room — including the president.” She summarized that “dealing with Rex could be exhausting.”
“I had been a chief executive, too,” the former ambassador wrote, comparing herself to Tillerson. “But from the beginning, Rex had different ideas about how the lines of authority and decision-making would be drawn.” She further described that “he was dismissive of my opinions, and he didn’t make any secret about the fact that he believed his views carried more weight.”
“In [National Security Councel] meetings, President Trump frequently would ask for my view,” Haley continued, still pressing her importance in the administration upon readers. “He would listen to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary Tillerson. And then he would ask me for my opinion. I would tell him directly and honestly. This seemed to annoy Rex, particularly when I disagreed with him, which I often did.”
Haley left her position as U.N. ambassador at the end of last year. It has been the opinion of many since Haley first announced she was leaving the Trump administration, that she has her sights on a 2024 presidential run.
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