Trump: ‘I have total confidence’ in Tillerson
President Trump voiced confidence in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday amid media reports that Tillerson had eyed an early exit from his administration.
Speaking to reporters at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nev., where Trump had just met with victims of Sunday night’s mass shooting, Trump ripped NBC News for reporting that Tillerson had mulled resigning and expressed “total confidence” in his secretary of State.
“It was fake news,” Trump said. “It was a totally a phony story … It was made up. It was made up by NBC. They just made it up.”
“Total confidence in Rex. I have total confidence,” he added.
NBC reported earlier Wednesday that Vice President Pence had to talk Tillerson into staying in his post. The story highlighted months-long disagreements between Trump and Tillerson, in which they have reportedly been at odds over staffing and how to address the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea.
The report also said that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron” at a meeting with his staff, a claim that Tillerson’s top spokeswoman denied.
As Trump was in the air en route to Las Vegas, Tillerson took the unusual step of holding a press conference to address the story.
He called the report “erroneous” and praised Trump’s leadership. Tillerson also expressed deep frustration with the Washington media, which he said had incorrectly reported for months that he might be leaving.
Tillerson, who is from Texas, also refused to address the claim that he had called Trump a “moron,” saying that “the places I come from, we don’t deal with petty stuff like that.”
A State Department spokeswoman later disputed that Tillerson ever disparaged Trump in such a way.
Trump on Wednesday said he was “very honored” by Tillerson’s remarks from the press conference.