Tiller­son de­nies plans to re­sign

Sec­re­tary re­buts re­port he called Trump a ‘mo­ron’

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

USA TO­DAY

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said Wed­nes­day he has never con­sid­ered re­sign­ing his job and called “er­ro­neous” an NBC News re­port that said he was so frus­trated with Pres­i­dent Donald Trump that he called him a “mo­ron” dur­ing a July 20 meet­ing at the Pen­tagon.

Tiller­son took the un­usual step of mak­ing a tele­vised state­ment after NBC News re­ported Wed­nes­day morn­ing that he con­sid­ered re­sign­ing after the meet­ing and had to be coun­seled by Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence.

While vis­it­ing Las Vegas, Trump said: “I’m very hon­ored by his com­ments. It was fake news from NBC. I have to­tal con­fi­dence in Rex.”

While Tiller­son did not men­tion the word “mo­ron” dur­ing his com­ments, State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert late Wed­nes­day de­nied Tiller­son used the word.

Pence’s of­fice also re­futed the re­port. “At no time did @VP & #SecS­tate dis­cuss prospect of Sec. res­ig­na­tion,” tweeted Jar­rod Agen, Pence’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor.

Agen’s state­ment didn’t ad­dress whether Pence gave Tiller­son ad­vice on how to han­dle his dis­putes with the pres­i­dent.

Cit­ing un­named se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, NBC News said the “mo­ron” com­ment came after Tiller­son met with mem­bers of Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity team and Cab­i­net of­fi­cials.

Coun­ter­ing that re­port, Tiller­son on Wed­nes­day morn­ing said Pence “never had to per­suade” him to keep his job.

“My com­mit­ment to the pres­i­dent is strong,” Tiller­son said, and he called the pres­i­dent a “smart” man who “de­mands re­sults.”

Ten­sions be­tween Trump and Tiller­son seemed ap­par­ent Sun­day, with Trump tweet­ing that Tiller­son is “wast­ing his time” by try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I told Rex Tiller­son, our won­der­ful Sec­re­tary of State, that he is wast­ing his time try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with Lit­tle Rocket Man,” the pres­i­dent tweeted, us­ing his nick­name for North Korea’s leader.

Tiller­son said, “I’m not go­ing to be part of the ef­fort to di­vide this na­tion.”

There has been ten­sion be­tween Tiller­son and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion over is­sues rang­ing from Iran pol­icy to State De­part­ment per­son­nel, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

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