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Nikki Haley is confused

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley visits "Fox &

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley visits "Fox & Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios on November 12, 2019 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images/John Lamparski

The name of former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley's new book, "With All Due Respect," sounds better if you don't know the context behind the title. In April 2018, Haley went on "Face the Nation" to announce new sanctions on Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

President Donald Trump had already axed the sanctions, because he loves Russian President Vladimir Putin like cats love string, but no one told Haley. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, announced Haley "got ahead of the curve" and "there might have been some momentary confusion.

And Haley famously responded, "With all due respect, I don't get confused."

Thanks to a decade as a journalist in South Carolina, I know Haley a bit. She gets confused as much as most middle-aged folks, which is to say, a lot. And the fact that the sanctions she promised were never imposed ruins the book title for anyone who knows the story.

But my point is not to bash Haley, who has her pros and cons: She was unprepared for her first term as governor but grew tremendously in the job. Her handling of the Charleston church shootings and their aftermath was empathetic and inspired, and her run as UN ambassador was polished and unembarassing, which is a lot in this administration. She is a true conservative of the sort who thinks paving roads and paying teachers more than a pittance is a waste of taxpayer money, and if that's your cup of tea, you can support her for president someday.

But she is once again confused, and other current and former top Trump officials are, too. In her book, Haley alleges that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House chief of staff John Kelly tried to  persuade her to join them in combating and undermining 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. 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.”

Haley apparently thinks the way to let the nation know that Cabinet members are staging a coup is in a book written for money more than a year later. A news conference held immediately after that conversation would have been the way to go.

Haley says she let Trump know, but we have no reason to believe the president would handle such a dangerous situation competently, and it was the people's government being undermined, not just Trump's.

That brings us to the close-mouthed resignations of Kelly, Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and the anonymity of the senior White House official who has published an op-ed in The New York Times and now a book claiming he or she is part of an internal "resistance."

These people, whose disgust with Trump is known but whose specific stories are not, owe it to the nation to make full public statements of how they saw Trump behave in the White House, and in the case of the anonymous author, to unmask themselves. There is no honor or adherence to duty in hiding the facts of this presidency from the American people, or waiting to reveal them as part of a juicy book, or hiding behind anonymity to report it, whether the plots uncovered are committed by Trump, for Trump or against him.

Lane Filler is a member of Newsday's editorial board.

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