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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Trump: 'Issue An APOLOGY To America'
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump teamed up Wednesday to blast an NBC News report detailing a supposed rift between them, with the top diplomat adamantly denying that he considered resigning – and the president calling on the network to apologize.
"The @NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec. Tillerson and @VP Pence. It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!" Trump tweeted after Tillerson rejected key details of the report in a rare response from the State Department.
The NBC News report had said Tillerson considered resigning over the summer amid disagreements with the White House.
“There’s never been a consideration in my mind,” Tillerson told reporters, in a previously unscheduled statement.
President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2017 in New York. (AP)
The report also said Tillerson even called Trump a “moron” this summer after a meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials. Vice President Pence reportedly got involved at the time to discuss ways to ease tensions.
Tillerson said Wednesday he would not address “petty” stuff, but said of the president, “He loves this country. He puts Americans and America first. He’s smart.”
Trump, en route to Las Vegas to meet with survivors of Sunday’s mass shooting, also hit back Wednesday at the report.
“NBC news is #FakeNews and more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!” Trump tweeted.
In his remarks, Tillerson denied that Pence ever had to get involved to convince him to stay.
“My commitment to the success of our president and our country is as strong as it was the day I accepted his offer to serve as secretary of state. … There is much to be done, and we’re just getting started," Tillerson said. “The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state because I have never considered leaving this post.”
A source with knowledge of the situation told Fox News that the conversations between Pence and Tillerson were more focused on getting the secretary of state back on the same page as the president, characterizing their interactions more as “counseling.”
The source told Fox News that Pence and Trump are fully in lockstep, and that the vice president continuously discusses the expectations of the president with Cabinet officials to ensure the administration is moving forward in the same direction.
The White House did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the relationship between Tillerson and Trump.
Tillerson’s top State Department spokesman, R.C. Hammond reportedly said that Tillerson did not consider resigning over the summer and denied Tillerson ever called the president a “moron.”
Reports of Tillerson having tensions with Trump have been circulating since this summer, around the time of Trump’s somewhat controversial speech to Boy Scouts of America in July, an organization once led by Tillerson.
Tillerson also raised eyebrows in August, following the president’s response to the violent attacks in Charlottesville, Va. In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” in August, host Chris Wallace pointedly asked Tillerson about the president’s values.
“The president speaks for himself, Chris,” Tillerson curtly replied.
Asked whether he was “separating himself” from the president’s comments, he answered, “I have spoken.”
The president has largely been mum on his relationship with Tillerson, and his performance as secretary of state. But over the weekend, he seemed to criticize Tillerson’s approach to North Korea.
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”