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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE on Thursday blasted Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonPresident Trump: To know him is to 'No' him Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Gary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November MORE after The Washington Post reported that the former secretary of State told lawmakers that Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBiden rolls out national security team The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Putin not ready to recognize Biden win 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 SandersSarah Sanders on Trump's reported war dead criticism: 'Those comments didn't happen' Sarah Sanders memoir reportedly says Trump joked she should hook up with Kim Jong Un McEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation 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.