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Tillerson defends his role after Trump controversy

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWhite House ousts Sessions Trump downplays potential turnover: 'Everybody wants to work in this White House' Trump says Cabinet changes likely after midterms MORE took to Washington's Sunday talk show circuit to demonstrate his comfort in his role in the Trump administration despite President Trump's criticism and reports he might exit the State Department in the near future. 

“The president wants to know what I think,” Tillerson said on CBS’s “Face the Nation."

“But I have complete freedom to express my views to the president. And he listens to those views,” he added. 

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The secretary of State later noted in the interview that he and Trump "don’t agree on everything." 

"Yes, sometimes he changes his mind. And whatever he decides though, he’s the president of the United States. I will work as hard as I can to implement his decisions successfully," he continued. 

Tillerson's remarks come after reports surfaced earlier this month that tensions between Trump and Tillerson were on the rise, due to major policy disagreements. 

The president called Tillerson out in a pair of tweets earlier this month, saying the secretary of State was "wasting his time" in trying to achieve diplomacy with North Korea. 

 

 

 

NBC News reported later in October that Tillerson referred to Trump as a "moron" after a Pentagon meeting this summer, and that Tillerson had been on the verge of quitting before Vice President Pence counseled him to stay on in the administration. 

Trump hit back against the report, telling Forbes earlier this week that if Tillerson called him a "moron," he would want to compare IQ scores. 

"I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests," the president said, adding, "And I can tell you who is going to win."

Tillerson denied the report that he was considering leaving the administration at an impromptu news conference earlier this month. However, he has yet to deny whether he called the commander in chief a moron. 

"As I indicated earlier when I was asked about that, I'm not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff," Tillerson told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" on Sunday. "I mean, this is a town that seems to relish in gossip, rumor and innuendo. And they feed on it. They feed on it in a very destructive way. I don't work that way and I don't feel that way," he said.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle Juan Williams: Trump's hostile takeover of the GOP Divided Congress to clash over Space Force, nuclear arsenal MORE (R-Tenn.), added additional fuel to the speculated tension between Trump and Tillerson in an interview with The Washington Post on Friday, in which he said Trump is trying to "publicly castrate" Tillerson. 

“You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of State without giving yourself that binary choice,” Corker told the Post.

“The tweets — yes, you raise tension in the region [and] it’s very irresponsible. But it’s the first part that I am most exercised about," he continued. 

Tillerson pushed back on Corker's comments on Sunday, telling Tapper, "I checked, I'm fully intact."

The reported tension between the president and the top U.S. diplomat comes as the U.S. faces a slew of foreign policy challenges. 

Tensions have come to a head between Washington and Pyongyang, with officials from both nations threatening military action. 

Trump also put U.S. allies on alert on Friday when he announced that the multination Iran deal was not in the U.S.'s national security interests.