Tiller­son and Trump trade in­sults

Kuwait Times - - International -

WASH­ING­TON: For­mer US sec­re­tary of state Rex Tiller­son said Don­ald Trump was “undis­ci­plined” and re­peat­edly wanted to break the law - lead­ing the US pres­i­dent to re­spond Fri­day that his one­time cab­i­net mem­ber was “dumb as a rock”. Tiller­son, who was fired in March, made no at­tempt to deny his poor re­la­tion­ship with Trump dur­ing a rare in­ter­view Thurs­day night as part of a char­ity din­ner in his na­tive Texas. “I think part of it was ob­vi­ously we are starkly dif­fer­ent in our styles. We did not have a com­mon value sys­tem,” Tiller­son told vet­eran jour­nal­ist Bob Schi­ef­fer of CBS News, which broad­cast an ex­cerpt of the in­ter­view.

“I’d have to say to him, ‘Well, Mr Pres­i­dent, I un­der­stand what you want to do, but you can’t do it that way - it vi­o­lates the law, it vi­o­lates a treaty.’ He got re­ally frus­trated,” he said. “I think he grew tired of me be­ing the guy ev­ery day that told him you can’t do that and let’s talk about what we can do.” Trump voiced anger hours later in a harsh tweet, say­ing that Tiller­son “didn’t have the men­tal ca­pac­ity needed” to be the top US di­plo­mat. “He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ball­game, great spirit at State!” Trump wrote from Air Force One as he re­turned from a con­fer­ence in Kansas City about crime.

Trump praised Tiller­son’s suc­ces­sor, the brusque for­mer con­gress­man and CIA chief Mike Pom­peo, for “do­ing a great job”. He be­comes the lat­est cab­i­net mem­ber on which Trump has turned his knives. He re­peat­edly de­nounced at­tor­ney gen­eral Jeff Ses­sion, who was ousted last month, as “very weak” for not block­ing a probe into whether the Trump pres­i­den­tial cam­paign col­luded with Rus­sia.

Re­la­tion­ship soured early

Tiller­son, a for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of oil gi­ant Exxon­Mo­bil, had no gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence and had never met Trump when his nom­i­na­tion was pro­moted by Repub­li­can Party in­sid­ers, who hoped for a stable fig­ure who could none­the­less ap­peal to the ty­coon­turned-pres­i­dent with his out­sider sta­tus and busi­ness back­ground. But Tiller­son im­me­di­ately strug­gled to fit in, fo­cus­ing on in­ter­nal State Depart­ment stream­lin­ing rather than broader for­eign pol­icy goals and avoid­ing the press as his rap­port frayed with Trump.

“It was chal­leng­ing for me coming from the dis­ci­plined, highly process-ori­ented Exxon­Mo­bil Corp to go to work for a man who is pretty undis­ci­plined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read brief­ing re­ports, doesn’t like to get into the de­tails of a lot of things,” Tiller­son said at the event in Hous­ton. Trump is proudly anti-in­tel­lec­tual, say­ing that he suc­ceeds by fol­low­ing his in­stincts and knows bet­ter than ex­perts. Asked about his read­ing habits in an in­ter­view shortly af­ter tak­ing of­fice, Trump said he was “look­ing at a book” but was dis­tracted by phone calls ev­ery time he tried to get started. When he se­lected him, Trump of­fered a vastly dif­fer­ent assess­ment of Tiller­son than on Fri­day, say­ing his “tenac­ity, broad ex­pe­ri­ence and deep un­der­stand­ing of geopol­i­tics” made him an “ex­cel­lent choice”. But it quickly be­came clear that the two had lit­tle chem­istry.


WASH­ING­TON: In this file photo taken on Feb 1, 2017, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump (left) speaks af­ter Rex Tiller­son was sworn in as Sec­re­tary of State in the Oval Of­fice at the White House.

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