Trump fires back at 'dumb as a rock' Tillerson on Putin

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE on Thursday blasted Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries State Dept. extends travel ban to North Korea Scaramucci breaks up with Trump in now-familiar pattern MORE after The Washington Post reported that the former secretary of State told lawmakers that Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Can we do business with Kim Jong Un? Leadership analysis might give clues Russian defense minister: 'We won't do anything' in Europe unless US places missiles there MORE was better prepared than Trump for a meeting in 2017.

"Rex Tillerson, a man who is 'dumb as a rock' and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany," Trump tweeted.

"I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!"

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The president nominated Tillerson as secretary of State at the outset of his administration, and fired him in March 2018 amid numerous clashes over U.S. foreign policy.

The Post reported that Tillerson spent hours meeting with the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, where he provided insight about the president's foreign policy strategy.

Tillerson told the panel that Putin out-prepared Trump during the meeting in Hamburg, and said he believed there was more the U.S. needed to do to confront Russia, according to the newspaper.

White House press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersApril Ryan's bodyguard issued summons over alleged assault of local journalist Sarah Sanders: Democrats should 'quit lying and do their jobs' Biden pledges return to daily press briefings as president MORE Sanders appeared on CNN's "New Day" a short time after Trump tweeted about Tillerson, and defended the president's preparation for the meeting with Putin in Germany and its outcome.

She did not directly answer, however, when asked why Trump nominated someone he has since derided as "dumb as a rock" and "ill equipped" for the job.

Thursday's tweet marked the latest barb in the acrimonious relationship between Trump and his former top diplomat.

Tillerson reportedly called the president a "moron" while serving in the administration, straining their relationship. Trump at times undercut the then-secretary of State on talks with North Korea and other issues before firing him over Twitter.

In December, Tillerson criticized the president during a fundraising event in Houston, saying Trump was undisciplined and would suggest taking actions that would break the law. The two men "did not have a common value system," he said.

Trump hit back a short time later, calling Tillerson "dumb as a rock" and "lazy as hell."

Trump has repeatedly defended his posture toward Russia, simultaneously arguing that no administration has been tougher on the Kremlin and that it would be beneficial to get along with Moscow.

— This report was updated at 9:11 a.m.