Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is still refusing to address reports he called President Trump a “moron” after a meeting with the commander in chief and top national security officials over the summer.
“I’m not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff,” Tillerson said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “This is a town that seems to relish gossip, rumor, innuendo, and they feed on it. They feed on one another in a very destructive way. I don’t work that way. I don’t deal that way, and I’m not going to dignify the question.”
Tillerson reportedly made the “moron” comment after a July 20 meeting during which Trump, Tillerson and other top national security advisers discussed the country’s nuclear arsenal. Last week, NBC News reported that Trump told the officials he wanted a “tenfold” increase in U.S. nuclear weapons, returning the number of nuclear weapons to levels not seen for decades. Trump later called the report “pure fiction” and threatened to revoke NBC’s broadcast license.
Earlier this month, NBC reported that Tillerson considered resigning after Trump’s rambling, highly politicized speech to a gathering of Boy Scouts on July 24, and that Vice President Mike Pence had to talk him out of it. That report prompted the secretary of state to abruptly call a hastily arranged press conference during which he rebutted the story and reaffirmed his commitment to the Trump agenda.
“The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state because I have never considered leaving this post,” Tillerson said.
But when asked specifically at that press conference whether he had called the president a moron, Tillerson did not deny it, saying, “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.”
Two weeks ago, Trump appeared to undercut Tillerson’s diplomatic efforts in North Korea, tweeting that the secretary of state was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with the rogue nuclear nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
On “State of the Union,” Tillerson insisted that Trump’s tweets did not undermine his efforts to negotiate with Pyongyang.
“He has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts,” Tillerson said. “Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”
“The president has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically,” Tillerson explained. “He’s not seeking to go to war.”
The secretary of state was also asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper to respond to Sen. Bob Corker’s comment that Trump has effectively “castrated” the nation’s top diplomat.
“You don’t want to say anything about the senator suggesting you were gelded?” Tapper asked.
“I checked,” Tillerson replied. “I’m fully intact.”
Read more from Yahoo News:
- Trump: If Tillerson called me a moron, ‘We’ll have to compare IQ tests’
- Trump threatens NBC broadcast license after report he wanted increase in nukes
- Trump says Tillerson is ‘wasting his time’ with North Korea
- Clinton, Obama break silence on Weinstein allegations
- Corker calls the White House ‘an adult day care center’