Oct 04, 2017
In a surprise statement to the press on Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson unequivocally denied an explosive NBC Newsreport suggesting that he "was on the verge of resigning" in July after President Donald Trump delivered his bizarre Boy Scouts speech, but he refused to confirm or deny another central component of NBC's report--that he called President Donald Trump a "fucking moron."
"I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that," Tillerson said, adding that he wouldn't be "be part of" anything intended to sow "division." He then reaffirmed his commitment to Trump, calling him "smart" and praising his "America First" agenda.
\u201cReporter: The report says you called Trump a "moron"\n\nTillerson: "I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that" https://t.co/lPeEu8NPvl\u201d— CNN Politics (@CNN Politics) 1507129994
One source told CNN that Trump was aware that Tillerson called him a "moron," but it is unclear whether the two ever directly discussed the matter.
In an afternoon press conference, State Department spokesperson Heather Naurt, asked specifically about the "moron" comment and his earlier non-denial, told reporters that Tillerson "doesn't use that type of language" and then stated flatly that he "did not say that" about the president.*
\u201cNEW: State Dept. spokesperson denies report Sec. Tillerson called Pres. Trump a "moron": "He did not say that." https://t.co/IhJYsACSmD\u201d— ABC News Politics (@ABC News Politics) 1507141396
According to NBC, a "pep talk" from Vice President Mike Pence--as well as persistent begging by Defense Secretary James Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly--ultimately convinced Tillerson to stay on board. Tillerson, in his remarks, denied that he has ever considered resigning or that Pence cajoled him to remain.
In addition to numerous other policy disputes, Tillerson complained in particular "about being publicly undermined by the president on the administration's foreign policy agenda," NBC reported Wednesday.
Watch Tillerson's full statement:
\u201cSec. Tillerson: My commitment to the success of our @POTUS & the country is as strong as the day I accepted his offer to serve as SecState.\u201d— Department of State (@Department of State) 1507130307
Update*: This piece has been updated to include later comments by a spokesperson for the State Department.
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