Nikki Haley says Kelly, Tillerson tried to get her to resist Trump to 'save the country'

Haley said the men "confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country."

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By Allan Smith

Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations, claims in a new book that two of his top advisers tried to "undermine" the president to "save the country."

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, was asked by "CBS Evening News" about a passage from her new book, "With All Due Respect," in which she claims that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House chief of staff John Kelly tried to recruit her into that effort. She says she refused. The Washington Post also reported on the exchange. NBC News has not independently verified the passage.

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"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. "Tillerson went on to tell me the reason he resisted the president's decisions was because, if he didn't, people would die."

When CBS News asked whether Haley stood by the quote, she said: "It absolutely happened. And 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.

"It should've been 'Go tell the president what your differences are, and quit if you don't like what he's doing,'" she said. "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."

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks on Capitol Hill in 2017.Andrew Harnik / AP file

Tillerson did not immediately provide a comment to NBC News. Kelly told The Post 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."

Kelly similarly told CBS News: "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."

Haley is rumored to be considering a run for president in 2024.

Josh Lederman contributed.