Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied claims by Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, that he and ex-chief of staff John Kelly tried baiting her into undermining President Donald Trump.
“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,” which was published on Tuesday.
“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.”
Haley said the pair tried recruiting her to join the effort “to save the country” but she refused.
“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 in a statement to the Washington Post.
“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,” Tillerson said. “Ambassador Haley was rarely a participant in my many meetings and is not in a 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.”
Kelly previously told the paper that if giving 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.”
Haley said this week that she never had any doubts about Trump’s fitness for office.
“In every instance that I dealt with him, he was truthful, he listened, and he was great to work with,” she said.
Haley left her position at the beginning of the year after announcing her resignation in October 2018.
Haley, 47, said she had spent a lot of time in the public sector, citing her six years as governor of South Carolina before joining the Trump administration.
“I am such a lucky girl to have been able to lead the state that raised me and to serve a country I love so very much. It has really been a blessing, and I want to thank you for that,” Haley told Trump last year.
Tillerson, 67, was ousted in March 2018 and replaced with Mike Pompeo, who remains secretary of state.
Kelly, 69, left in late 2018 and was replaced by Mick Mulvaney, who remains acting White House chief of staff.