Nikki Haley: Disloyal Trump Aides Worried Israel Embassy Move Meant 'The Sky Would Fall'

In her new book 'With All Due Respect,' Haley says then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told her they were trying to 'save the country'

U.S. President Donald Trump and Nikki Haley in the Oval Office after announcing that the president had accepted Haley's resignation in Washington, D.C., October 9, 2018.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump's former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley alleges in her upcoming memoir that two senior administration officials once tried to get her to join them in opposing some of Trump's policies.

In "With All Due Respect," Haley writes that then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told her they were trying to "save the country." Haley says she was "shocked" by the request, made during a closed-door meeting, and thought they were only trying to put their own imprint on his policies.

Haley told NPR in reference to the book that it wasn't that they were worried about "a rogue president that was out of control," but policy differences they had with Trump. These included withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Haley added that the embassy move was one instance "where they said the sky would fall." Haley retorted, however, that the embassy was moved and "the sky is still up there."

"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. "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. ... 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 said the meeting lasted more than an hour and that they never raised the issue to her again.

Haley's book comes out Tuesday. The Associated Press purchased an early copy.

"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," Haley wrote. "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."

Trump fired Tillerson in March 2018. Later, Tillerson said the president was "undisciplined" and did not like to read briefing reports. Trump countered, calling Tillerson "dumb as a rock."

When Kelly was chief of staff, Trump chafed at the orderly processes the general imposed on his freewheeling style and White House operations at large. Trump let him go in December 2018.

When asked to respond to Haley's book, Kelly told CBS' "Sunday Morning" that "if by resistance and stalling, she means putting a staff process in place ... to ensure the [president] knew all the pros and cons of what policy decision he might be contemplating so he could make an informed decision, then guilty as charged."

One early reaction to Haley's book came from Trump's Twitter account. After noting the book's release and her book tour, Trump tweeted, "Good luck Nikki!"

Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.