Anyone not more sympathetic to Tillerson and Kelly after reading that probably is of the view that Trump is a fit president whose actions never undercut American democracy or national security. We know the latter is dead wrong (e.g., extorting Ukraine, showering Kim Jong Un with love, siding with Vladimir Putin over American intelligence).
Trying to parse her broad allegations, we suppose Haley is saying that senior officials worked to dissuade Trump from doing stupid or illegal things, and she wouldn’t join in. Now she wants to cry foul, upping her image as a loyal Trumper. (“Tillerson did not respond to a request for comment. Kelly declined to comment in detail, but said that if providing the president ‘with 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.’”)
Even more galling, Haley recited a specious defense of Trump’s extortion of Ukraine in a recent interview, declaring “no harm, no foul.” She insisted, “So, do I think it’s not good practice to talk to foreign governments about investigating Americans? Yes. Do I think the president did something that warrants impeachment? No, because the aid flowed.” He solicited a bribe but did not get it, so all is well.
For those who imagined she might ride to the rescue of the party, saving it from the clutches of Trump, this must be disappointing. It must be sobering to acknowledge that she is simply another cynical, ambitious pol willing to put the country at risk to serve her own future political ambitions.
The indomitable never-Trumper Charlie Sykes cautions benighted Republicans. “In her memoir, Nikki wants us — and especially Trump — to know that her loyalty was unwavering. She wanted no part of ‘saving the country’ if it meant crossing Trump. . . . Lest her loyalty be in any possible doubt, she also threw herself in front of the impeachment bus, latching onto the latest Trump talking point.”
Haley, like every Republican past or present in this administration, and every Senate Republican save Mitt Romney (Utah), is guilty, if not for sins of commission, than in sins of omission for not doing her level best to tell the American people the truth, refute his lies, and rebut his racist and xenophobic attacks. When asked what they did during this dangerous period in American history, they will respond, “I laid low.”
Consider the senior figures who have exited, such as Tillerson, Kelly, Jim Mattis, H.R. McMaster and John Bolton. Not one of them has stepped forward to relate what they know — not even Bolton, who is witness to what seems like impeachable conduct. Former speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan has not come forward to share what he knows or to repudiate the excuse-mongering for Trump’s impeachable acts. None of these figures has provided evidence that would help investigators uncover Trump’s corruption, self-dealing and pattern of placing personal interests above national interests.
Haley is no better and no worse than the average Republican in this period who failed to come to the aid of the country. (She is different only in that she brags about her rank partisanship.) For precisely this reason, I have argued that a decent, pro-American Republican Party is not possible unless it suffers devastating losses, and until those who have committed sins of omission and commission retire or leave the party, or are repudiated by a new generation of leaders. That may take a generation, but perhaps an alternative party of moderate, 19th century “liberals” will arise to take its place. If not, we’ll wait for the GOP to shed its Trumpian skin.