Trump Attacks “Dumb as a Rock” Rex Tillerson, Whom He Once Praised for His “Vast Experience”

The president once touted his former Secretary of State as the “most prepared” person for job.

Kevin Dietsch/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Donald Trump once praised his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for his “vast experience,” claiming the former Exxon chief executive was the “most prepared” person for the top diplomatic role. Now Trump says his hand-picked secretary of state is “dumb as a rock” and was “ill-prepared and ill-equipped” for the job.

The attack follows a meeting Tillerson had with the House Foreign Affairs committee this week in which he told lawmakers that Russian President Vladimir Putin was far more prepared than Trump for a key meeting in Germany. When asked to describe Trump’s values during the discussion, Tillerson reportedly could not. 

The characterization has clearly angered the president. In addition to deriding his former Secretary of State’s intellect, Trump also accused Tillerson of fabricating his testimony to the committee.

The attack is the latest in the dramatic fall-out between the two men. The fast-deteriorating relationship took an especially public turn in October 2017 following a report that Tillerson privately referred to Trump as a “moron.” In an awkward news conference days later, Tillerson pushed back on certain elements of the story but never denied the “moron” claim. “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,” he responded when asked about the alleged remark.

When asked how Trump could insult Tillerson as ill-equipped when he himself handpicked the former Exxon chief to lead the State Department, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not answer the question. She instead claimed that no one had been tougher on Russia than Trump. 

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.