Live from music row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy was joined in studio by all-star panelist, long-time friend, and Tea Party organizer Ben Cunningham to discuss former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley’s new book, With All Due Respect.
During the segment, Leahy read specific quotes from the book where Nikki Haley expresses concern for Rex Tillerson and John Kelly’s alleged insubordination to President Trump’s policies. Leahy reads:
Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the President they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country. It was their decisions, not the President’s that were in the best interest of America they said. The President didn’t know what he was doing. ‘I don’t even think he realizes what the legislative branch is and that members of Congress are elected by the people,’ Kelly said.
Leahy: We are joined now with our all-star panelist and good friend, long-time friend, and all-star panelist. Ben Cunningham. Welcome, Ben.
Cunningham: Good morning Micheal. Great to be here.
Leahy: So I’ve got the smoking gun.
Leahy: I went in and I bought on Kindle Nikki Haley’s book, With All Due Respect. Listen up!
Cunningham: What did you find?
Leahy: I’m going to quote exactly what she said about the subversion she claimed. I can tell you when she claimed it happened between Rex Tillerson and John Kelly and where. So I’ll skip through this quote:
I had heard plenty at the UN about the plight of the Palestinians. I wanted to see for myself.
So I took my first trip to Israel in June of 2017. I visited the Ida Palestinian refugee camp on the West Bank.’ So we’ve got a time here. It’s June of 2017. ‘I came back to New York, she said, with hopes of working with the UN agency devoted exclusively to providing services like healthcare and education to Palestinian refugees.
As is typical for the UN its name is a mouthful. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. Or, UNRWA.
Then she has a lot of discussion about that. Then she describes a meeting in the White House that she had with Rex Tillerson and the President and John Kelly in June of 2017.
They were debating about schools closing in the United States and the threat the UNRWA used every time reform was mentioned. So that’s the genesis of the discussion. Then she says, “When it was clear we weren’t going to get anywhere on resolving the UNRWA funding question, the conversation went to a place that took my breath away.”
Challenging the authority of the President himself. OK, so this is a private meeting in the White House. Chief of Staff John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, and Nikki Haley. Here’s what she says happened.
Cunningham: The three of them there by themselves?
Leahy: That’s what she says OK? Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the President they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country. It was their decisions, not the President’s that were in the best interest of America they said. The President didn’t know what he was doing. “I don’t even think he realizes what the legislative branch is and that members of Congress are elected by the people,” Kelly said.
Leahy: This is what Nikki Haley says. She’s quoting former Chief of Staff John Kelly.
But it wasn’t the legislative branch that these men wanted the president to defer to, it was them. Tillerson went on to tell me the reason he resisted the President’s decision was because if he didn’t people would die.
This is how high the stakes were he and Kelly told me. We are doing the best we can to save the country he said. We need you to work with us and help us do it.
This went on for over an hour in the White House. The three of them.
Cunningham: Right. I’m really glad to hear that she’s documented it fully. The implication from her teaser the other day was just exactly this. And now she’s flushing it out. She’s giving time and place and context about the issues involved. I mean this is a major accusation.
Leahy: It is.
Cunningham: And if this is true and we’ll see how Kelly and Tillerson come out and respond to this.
Leahy: They vaguely responded. Not to specifics.
Cunningham: They’ve got to respond to the specifics of this date and time and discussion.
Leahy: Well specifically, were they in the White House together in June 2017? I’m sure that they probably were. I bet there’s a log to check that. So let me continue. The problem was, Nikki Haley says, I’ve been in meetings with the President, and Tillerson, and Kelly.
Their idea of ‘saving the country’ was not stopping the President who they thought was somehow unable to do the job, their idea of ‘saving the country’ was staying in the Iran nuclear deal and staying in the Paris Climate Agreement and keeping the US Embassy in Tel Aviv just to name a few.
These were major policy decisions in which they disagreed with the President. Their obligation in those situations was to express the disagreement to the President. And if they couldn’t change his mind they needed to carry out his wishes or leave. But that’s not what they were doing. Again, Ben. That’s pretty strong.
Cunningham: It is very strong. You know and it just occurs to me that this is kind of the next one step we have in Donald Trump revealing himself.
Leahy: Let me just finish the quote before we get to the break. ‘I was so shocked, Nikki Haley said, I didn’t speak the whole way back to New York. I didn’t think President’s advisors were working against him not directly anyway. But they were definitely working around him.
They were stalling, distracting, taking matters into their own hands doing anything they could to resist carrying out his policies. They were headed down a very dangerous path. Note she said, “I didn’t think the President advisers were working against him, not directly anyway.” So she’s putting a caveat there.
Cunningham: But they were clearly.
Leahy: Well, that’s exactly right.
Cunningham: The President has made this decision he’s wrong we need to go another direction.
Listen to the full third hour:
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