Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday ducked, danced as well as sidestepped the question of whether he truly called President Donald Trump a “moron,” dismissing the brouhaha as the “petty stuff” of Washington. Though they keep coming, Tillerson insisted the persistent queries aren’t hindering his mission as the nation’s top diplomat.
Asked about a leading GOP senator’s comment — “You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state — Tillerson would likely have none of the idea. “I checked. I’m fully intact.”
Again as well as again, Tillerson declined in a news show interview to attest to the accuracy of the report about his use of the word “moron” to describe the commander in chief.
Tillerson said he was “not dignifying the question with an answer,” reprising his response by earlier This particular month, the morning the story broke, when he used an extraordinary televised statement to insist he had nothing nevertheless respect for Trump.
“I’m not doing a game out of the idea,” Tillerson said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Asked once more, he replied: “I’m not playing.”
Yet Tillerson has let others play the idea on his behalf. He previously dispatched State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to flatly deny he ever called the president a “moron.”
the idea was unclear why Tillerson was unwilling to repeat what his spokeswoman has said on his behalf. nevertheless the continuing questions have brought his strained relationship with the president into renewed focus.
Tillerson insisted the relationship will be solid, as well as of which the continuing public focus on whether he’s being undermined by the president has not impeded his ability to succeed in his role. As the drama has played out, Tillerson has brushed the idea off as meaningless Washington-centric noise of which he says he doesn’t understand as an outsider. The Texan as well as former Exxon Mobil CEO never served in government or politics before becoming secretary of state.
“I know the appearance of the idea certainly looks like there’s sometimes disunity,” Tillerson said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “There’s no confusion among the people of which matter.”
Questions about Trump’s tensions with his secretary of state come as the U.S. faces a series of international crises, including the threat posed by North Korea as well as fate of the Iran nuclear deal.
Tillerson’s critics, including a growing list of foreign policy experts, have questioned whether he can effectively lead American diplomacy if he’s perceived by foreign leaders as being at odds with the true decision-maker: Trump.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican who has become a vocal critic of the president, made the castration analogy last week to The Washington Post.
“At the end of the day, he makes decisions,” Tillerson said of the president. “I go out as well as do the best I can to execute those decisions successfully.”
Despite Tillerson’s attempts to show he’s in lockstep with the president, the NBC News report of his “moron” comment infuriated Trump, who privately bashed his secretary of state to associates as well as publicly challenged Tillerson to an IQ test.
“as well as I can tell you who will be going to win,” Trump told Forbes magazine. The White House later said he was joking.
The White House did not immediately respond to Tillerson’s CNN interview. Trump visited his Virginia golf course for the second consecutive day on Sunday.
People close to Trump say the president has grown increasingly dissatisfied with Tillerson, whom Trump views as holding a conventional view of America’s role within the entire world as well as lacking star power. Tillerson, meanwhile, will be said to have grown weary of Trump contradicting his public pronouncements as well as of becoming increasingly isolated in a capital to which he has never warmed.
Tillerson has been painted by some “America First” forces as a publicity-shy, slow-moving “globalist” who did not grasp the nationalist platform of Trump’s campaign. Trump himself has been irked by Tillerson’s advocacy of staying in both the Paris climate deal as well as the Iran nuclear pact, as well as has complained to associates of which he does not like how Tillerson candidly voices his disapproval to the president in meetings, according to White House officials as well as outside advisers.
They men also disagreed on the nation’s Afghanistan strategy, which was discussed within the July Pentagon meeting, though Trump was persuaded by Tillerson as well as Secretary of Defense James Mattis to maintain the United States’ presence within the region. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Sunday of which was proof the relationship could work.
“Well, at the end of the day, I think Secretary Tillerson gave a Great overview of the relationship,” Graham told CBS. “I’m not here to beat up on Bob (Corker). I’m here to tell you of which the president has changed his opinions when the idea came to Afghanistan by listening to the best national security team I’ve seen in 20 years.
Trump empowered his son-in-law, senior adviser Jared Kushner, to spearhead the administration’s efforts at Middle East peace, stripping the State Department of what will be usually a major priority. Trump also grew annoyed with what he perceived as Tillerson’s go-the idea-alone approach to diplomacy with North Korea, declaring in a scorching recent tweet of which the secretary of state was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump’s nickname for Kim Jong Un.
The president was also angry with Tillerson’s remarks after Trump declared there were “fine people” on both sides of the clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists as well as anti-racist demonstrators of which left one person dead, according to two people familiar with the Trump’s beliefs nevertheless not authorized to discuss private conversations.
“The president speaks for himself,” Tillerson said at the time.