Nikki Haley, the bright hope of Trump-skeptical Republicans, has placed a big bet that the Republican future will be almost as Trump-y as the recent Republican past.
Haley numbers among the Republicans most often named as a leader for the post-Trump future. At intervals over the past three years, she has dissented from some of the more bizarre Trump excesses. After Donald Trump gloated over a burglary at the home of the late Representative Elijah Cummings in Baltimore, Haley tweeted, “This is so unnecessary.” The dissents, however, were always circumspect, and never touched on the central scandals of the administration. Haley left her possibilities open for future decision.
The Washington Post today reports that Haley has now decided. In the form of a post-administration book, the former South Carolina governor has placed her chips on Trump.
In the book, which was obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its release Tuesday, Haley offers only glancing critiques of her former boss, saying she and others who worked for Trump had an obligation to carry out his wishes since he was the one elected by voters.
The Post report describes an act of strategic betrayal on Haley’s part against her former colleagues Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson and former White House chief of staff John F. Kelly sought to recruit her to work around and subvert Trump, but she refused, Haley writes in a new book, “With All Due Respect,” which also describes Tillerson as “exhausting” and imperious and Kelly as suspicious of her access to 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.
“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 wrote of the views the two men held.
It’s unclear exactly what Tillerson and Kelly had in mind; we have only the Post’s summary of Haley’s account. Nor, out of context, can we accurately assess Haley’s own point of view. When she writes that Tillerson and Kelly believed that Trump did not know what he was doing, is she suggesting that she believed Trump did know? And would that be meant as a compliment or criticism? (These days, it is Trump’s defenders who argue he “didn’t know what he was doing” in order to excuse the president’s attempted shakedown of invaded Ukraine to extract political dirt against former Vice President Joe Biden.)