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

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

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:

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate