Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held an extraordinary, hastily arranged presser this morning to blast an NBC News report he had considered resigning over the summer, called President Donald Trump a “moron” at a meeting, and had to be talked out of walking by Veep Mike Pence.
Flatly contradicting one portion of NBC News’ report, Tillerson said, “The Vice President has never had to persuade me to remain a Secretary of State because I have never considered leaving this post.”
Tillerson insisted his “commitment to the president and this country is as strong as ever.”
“Let me tell you what I learned about this president I did not know before taking office,” Tillerson told members of the media. “He loves this country and puts America and Americans first.” He called Trump “smart” and someone who “demands results wherever he goes,”calling that “one of the bedrock values he and I share.”
Joe Biden Tells NBC News That Transition Outreach From Trump Team Has Been "Sincere", So Far
Without naming NBC News, Tillerson said: “While I’m new to Washington, I have learned that there are some… who try to advance their own agenda by tearing others apart in an attempt to undermine the president.”
To the surprise of reporters, Tillerson, who hates talking to the press, took some questions. Asked if he had called Trump a moron, Tillerson shot back, “I am not going to deal with petty stuff.”
“This is what I do not understand about Washington – but places where I come from we don’t deal with that petty nonsense,” the former Exxon/Mobile CEO scolded.
As Tillerson’s stunning presser wrapped, Trump tweeted:
Minutes before Tillerson took the microphone at the State Department, Trump also had tweeted:
The choreographed messaging was delivered in response to an NBC News report tearing up the TV turf Wednesday morning that Tillerson nearly stepped down last summer when Trump made his gobsmacking speech to the Boy Scouts’ Jamboree. NBC’s report also said Tillerson called Trump a “f**king moron” following a national security meeting at the Pentagon in July. Tillerson’s State Department spokesman denied the report.
CNN reported just before Tillerson’s presser that the Secretary had clashed, loudly, with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, when the latter attempted to school the former, and that Chief of Staff John Kelly had step in.
The NBC report published three days after President Donald Trump knee-capped Tillerson on Twitter, calling pointless his Secretary of State’s diplomatic efforts on the North Korean front:
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.