Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told President-elect Trump after the election she didn't want to be secretary of state because she didn't think she was qualified to be the nation's top diplomat.
"I'm very aware of when things are right and when they are not," the former South Carolina governor told CNN. "I just thought he could find someone better."
After Haley asked to be removed from consideration for the position, she had planned to finish her term as governor. Instead, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus called her a few days later to offer her the position as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Haley told Trump she would accept the offer if she could be a member of Trump's Cabinet as well as the National Security Council, as her predecessors had been during the Obama administration. She also wanted to be able to speak her mind.
"I said ‘I am a policy girl, I want to be part of the decision-making process,'" Haley said. "He said, ‘done.' And I said, ‘I don't want to be a wallflower or a talking head. I want to be able to speak my mind.' He said, ‘That is why I asked you to do this.' In all honesty, I didn't think they were going to take me up on everything I asked for. And they gave me all that. So how do you turn that down?"
Though Trump has publicly lambasted other Cabinet members when they break with him, Haley said Trump has "never once" told her she has crossed the line.
"I'm a strong voice by nature. He's very aware of what I'm doing and he's very supportive," she said.
Editor's note: The headline on this story has been changed to reflect that President-elect Trump did not offer Nikki Haley the secretary of state position in November 2016.