UPDATE: A Tillerson spokesperson later did deny the “moron” charge.
Secretary of State Tillerson today denied a report by NBC News that he wanted to resign, but he passed on responding to an allegation in the same report that he called President Trump a moron.
In fact, according to our reporting here, that story is false. He did not call the president a moron. He called him an imbecile.
Okay, that’s a bad joke, sorry. Trump, of course, is neither. Tillerson did say of Trump, “He’s smart,” which certainly is true, his critics notwithstanding.
From NBC News:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time.
The tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said.
Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a “moron,” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.
In an unscheduled statement to reporters Wednesday morning, Tillerson directly addressed that version of events, saying, “I have never considered leaving this post.”
He praised Trump’s foreign policy agenda, saying he was part of a team to “make America great again.” But he did not deny calling the president a “moron,” declining to address that remark directly and saying, “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.”
Here’s the reporter, Carol Lee, who broke the story discussing it:
Here is Tillerson’s response: