Tillerson Won’t Deny Calling Trump a “Moron”

But he contradicted reports that he considered quitting his post as secretary of state.

Tom Nicholson/ZUMA

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refused to confirm or deny reports on Wednesday that he called President Donald Trump a “moron” but insisted that he was not on the verge of quitting his post amid tensions with Trump this summer.

In an unscheduled press conference on Wednesday, Tillerson said he had “never considered leaving this post.” He added, “President Trump and his administration will keep moving as one team doing great things for the Untied States of America, to make America great again.”

The announcement comes on the heels of an NBC report that Tillerson nearly resigned in July after growing increasingly frustrated with Trump over various policy disagreements. In one incident, Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron” in front of several Cabinet members and the president’s national security team—forcing Vice President Mike Pence to intervene to persuade Tillerson to remain in his post. 

“I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,” Tillerson said on Wednesday when asked specifically about the “moron” comment. “This is what I don’t understand about Washington. I’m not from this place.”

Moments before Tillerson’s press conference, Trump took to Twitter to address the NBC report:

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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