State Dept: Tillerson did not call Trump ‘moron’


State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Wednesday strongly denied that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called President Trump a “moron,” as appeared in reports.

“The secretary does not use that type of language,” Nauert said during a press briefing. “The secretary did not use that type of language to speak about the president of the United States. He does not use that language to speak about anyone.”

She also said that Tillerson had reassured her that he and the president were “all good,” despite reports that he was considering leaving the State Department amid growing tensions with Trump.


In a news conference Wednesday morning, Tillerson addressed an NBC report that top Trump administration officials, including Vice President Pence, had urged him not to step down from the State Department over the summer.

“The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of State because I have never considered leaving,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson refused to directly address the report that he referred to Trump as a “moron,” saying that he would not “deal with petty stuff like that.”

Nauert told reporters at the State Department that Tillerson spoke with Trump after his morning news conference. She said he and the president maintained a good working relationship.

“He told me ‘Heather, it was a good conversation,’ and they were all good,” she said.

Tillerson and Trump have appeared at odds on a number of issues. When Tillerson recently signalled that the U.S. was in direct talks with North Korea, for example, Trump wrote on Twitter that his top diplomat was “wasting his time” by pursuing a dialogue.

But NBC’s bombshell report on Wednesday held that tensions between Trump and his secretary of State boiled over in July after the president gave a politically charged speech to the Boy Scouts of America — an organization Tillerson used to lead.

NBC also reported that Tillerson, exasperated after a July 20 meeting about the Trump administration’s Afghanistan policy, called the president a “moron.”

The report stoked a furious response from Trump, who took to Twitter to criticize NBC as fake news and call for an apology.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday that the president still has full confidence in Tillerson, despite reports of internal clashes and disagreements.

“As we’ve said many times before, if the president doesn’t have confidence in somebody, they will no longer be in their position,” Sanders said.

Updated at 3:05 p.m.

Tags Rex Tillerson State Department

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