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, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

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. 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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