Tillerson meets with House Foreign Affairs Committee

Tillerson meets with House Foreign Affairs Committee
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Former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonDemocrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo The Memo: Fauci at odds with Trump on virus The Memo: Speculation grows about Fauci's future MORE on Tuesday met with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and their staff to discuss his tenure at the State Department.

Tillerson met with Reps. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse chairman slams Pompeo for suggesting US could 'disconnect' from Australia over China deal Open Skies withdrawal throws nuclear treaty into question The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.) and Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulHouse passes bill that would sanction Chinese officials over Xinjiang camps The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve House GOP to launch China probes beyond COVID-19 MORE (R-Texas), the panel’s chairman and ranking member, respectively, and a small number of majority and minority staff. A committee aide told The Hill the meeting covered a wide variety of topics from Tillerson’s time as secretary of State.

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No immediate details were available about the substance of the conversation, though reports said Tillerson discussed foreign policy issues in the Trump administration. The Daily Beast was the first to report the meeting.

A committee aide told The Daily Beast that the former official said the Trump administration actively sought to avoid confronting Russia over the intelligence community’s conclusion that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election. Tillerson also reportedly said Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump's strategy to stay in office Trump tries to soothe anxious GOP senators Press: King Donald's goal - no checks, no balances MORE, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths DOJ: George Floyd death investigation a 'top priority' Lifting our voices — and votes MORE's son-in-law and senior adviser, hindered his ability to discuss with the president State Department policy on major foreign affairs issues.

A committee aid in a statement to The Hill later disputed the characterization of those discussions. 

“The tone and facts of yesterday’s meeting have been completely mischaracterized in the media and what’s been reported does not match Tillerson’s own words. We believe Tillerson’s testimony best speaks for itself, and are hopeful that our Democrat Chairman will release the full transcript of the meeting to the public soon," the aid said.

Tillerson had a notoriously acrimonious relationship with Trump until he was fired in March 2018. The two repeatedly clashed on a litany of issues, including the Iran nuclear deal, and Tillerson once reportedly called the president a “moron.”

The former State Department chief has shirked the public spotlight since his dismissal, though he said at one rare appearance in December that the president made requests of him that would have been illegal.

“So often, the president would say here's what I want to do and here's how I want to do it and I would have to say to him, 'Mr. President, I understand what you want to do but you can't do it that way. It violates the law,’” Tillerson said at a cancer center fundraiser then.

Tillerson was deeply unpopular at the State Department during his time heading the agency, as many diplomats reportedly claimed he was too isolated and unwilling to take advice from subordinates. He previously served as the chief executive officer at Exxon Mobil before joining the Trump administration.