Tiller­son chal­lenged by Trump on IQ score

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD - An­drew Beatty and Dave Clark

DON­ALD Trump’s feud with top diplo­mat Rex Tiller­son burst back into the open on Tues­day, after the US pres­i­dent joked that he and his sec­re­tary of state should com­pare IQ scores.

Hav­ing dis­missed re­ports that Tiller­son had once called him a “mo­ron”, Trump re­fused to let the con­tro­versy go, re­new­ing ques­tions about Tiller­son’s fu­ture.

In an in­ter­view with Forbes mag­a­zine, Trump was asked about last week’s re­port that Tiller­son had in­sulted him be­hind his back – a story that both had al­ready de­nied.

“I think it’s fake news,” Trump said, be­fore al­low­ing: “But if he did that, I guess we’ll have to com­pare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”

The in­ter­view was pub­lished hours be­fore the two men met in the White House for talks on Iran, Turkey and North Korea and then lunch with De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis.

Ahead of the sit-down, Trump had in­sisted he still had con­fi­dence in the sec­re­tary of state, say­ing: “I did not un­der­cut any­body. I don’t be­lieve in un­der­cut­ting peo­ple.” But White House in­sid­ers say that Tiller­son’s re­fusal to per­son­ally deny an NBC News re­port that he la­belled Trump a “mo­ron” after a July meet­ing had deep­ened the rift.

White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders in­sisted there was no rift be­tween the men – and that Trump does not think Tiller­son is stupid.

“The pres­i­dent cer­tainly never im­plied the sec­re­tary of state was not in­cred­i­bly in­tel­li­gent. He made a joke, noth­ing more than that,” San­ders said.

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