UPDATED! Rex Tillerson didn’t merely call Trump a “moron”…
UPDATED! 11:15amEDT – A few minutes ago, Stephanie Ruehl, one of the writers of the report cited below, told MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson that her source said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson didn’t merely call Donald Trump a moron, “he called him an effing moron.”
This follows an unscheduled public statement by Tillerson.
… Tillerson, in a hastily convened news conference on Wednesday, denied that he had ever considered resigning and dismissed an NBC News article reporting that he had called the president a “moron.”
Mr. Tillerson said that Vice President Mike Pence had never had to persuade him to remain as secretary of state, as the NBC News story had reported, “because I have never considered leaving this post.”
Mr. Tillerson refused to address whether he had called the president a “moron.”
“I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,” he said, his voice seeming to shake with anger. “This is what I don’t understand about Washington. Again, I’m not from this place. But the places I come from, we don’t deal with that kind of petty nonsense.”
8:25amEDT – The story behind the story may be as important as the story. A quartet of reporters for NBC and MSNBC – Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker, Stephanie Ruhle, and Dafna Linzer – tell an interesting tale about backstage drama in the West Wing:
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 multiple 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.
While it’s unclear if he was aware of the incident, Vice President Mike Pence counseled Tillerson, who is fourth in line to the presidency, on ways to ease tensions with Trump, and other top administration officials urged him to remain in the job at least until the end of the year, officials said.
Officials said that the administration, beset then by a series of high-level firings and resignations, would have struggled to manage the fallout from a Cabinet secretary of his stature departing within the first year of Trump’s presidency.
Andrea Mitchell doesn’t appear on the byline, but she had plenty to say about it this morning:
The incident happened just over two months ago – but was published this morning at 5:50amEDT. Did this juicy tidbit come from a recent departee from TrumpWorld? There are plenty of former White House staffers who may just be a bit worried about Trump’s intellectual acumen and its relationship to foreign policy – and who agree both that Trump is a moron and that Pence is a far more skilled politician.