TRUMP CALLS Tiller­son “dumb as a rock.”

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Front Page - COM­PILED BY DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE STAFF FROM WIRE RE­PORTS In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Peter Baker of The New York Times; and by Carol Morello of The Wash­ing­ton Post.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­nounced his for­mer sec­re­tary of state, Rex Tiller­son, as “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell” Fri­day af­ter the for­mer Cab­i­net mem­ber said the pres­i­dent had reg­u­larly pushed him to take ac­tions that were il­le­gal.

Trump, who fired Tiller­son with a Twit­ter post in March, fired back at him in the same so­cial me­dia chan­nel af­ter the for­mer sec­re­tary gave a talk in Hous­ton break­ing his si­lence. In the talk, Tiller­son said Trump was undis­ci­plined, did not like to read and did not re­spect the lim­its of his of­fice.

“Mike Pom­peo is do­ing a great job, I am very proud of him,” Trump wrote Fri­day af­ter­noon, re­fer­ring to the cur­rent sec­re­tary. “His pre­de­ces­sor, Rex Tiller­son, didn’t have the mental ca­pac­ity needed. 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’s judg­ment on Tiller­son was the po­lar op­po­site when he nom­i­nated him, prais­ing him in De­cem­ber 2016 as a “world-class player” who made “mas­sive deals” while CEO of a mam­moth oil com­pany.

The pres­i­dent did not say so but ap­peared to be re­spond­ing to com­ments Tiller­son made in Hous­ton on Thurs­day night dur­ing a pub­lic dis­cus­sion with Bob Schi­ef­fer, the long­time CBS News jour­nal­ist, at an event ben­e­fit­ing M.D. An­der­son Cancer Cen­ter.

Tiller­son, a for­mer Exxon Mo­bil chief ex­ec­u­tive, for the most part has stayed out the pub­lic eye since his de­par­ture from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion but un­loaded un­der ques­tion­ing by Schi­ef­fer.

“It was chal­leng­ing for me com­ing from the dis­ci­plined, highly process-ori­ented Exxon Mo­bil Cor­po­ra­tion 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, but rather just kind of says, ‘Look, this is what I be­lieve,’” Tiller­son said.

Tiller­son said the pres­i­dent kept press­ing for ac­tions be­yond his au­thor­ity.

“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,’” Tiller­son said. “It vi­o­lates the law.”

In his re­marks in Hous­ton, Tiller­son did not of­fer any spe­cific ex­am­ples of the Trump di­rec­tives he deemed il­le­gal.

The for­mer sec­re­tary did say the pres­i­dent would get frus­trated. “I’d say, ‘Here’s what we can do. We can go back to Congress and get this law changed. And if that’s what you want to do, there’s noth­ing wrong with that,’” Tiller­son said. “I told him, ‘I’m ready to go up there and fight the fight, if that’s what you want to do.’”

Tiller­son also took a swipe at Twit­ter — not the pres­i­dent’s use of it, but the short at­ten­tion span it has helped en­gen­der in many Amer­i­cans.

Say­ing Trump won of­fice us­ing mod­ern-day tools to tap into strong emo­tions, he added, “I will be hon­est with you. It trou­bles me that the Amer­i­can peo­ple seem to want to know so lit­tle about is­sues that they are sat­is­fied with 128 char­ac­ters.

“I don’t want that to come across as a crit­i­cism of him. It’s re­ally a con­cern I have about us as Amer­i­cans, and us as a so­ci­ety, and us as cit­i­zens.”

Since he was dis­missed, Tiller­son pre­vi­ously had avoided any di­rect re­buke of his for­mer boss.

The clos­est he came to crit­i­ciz­ing Trump was dur­ing a com­mence­ment speech he made at Vir­ginia Mil­i­tary In­sti­tute in which he lamented “a grow­ing cri­sis of ethics and in­tegrity” and said truth was “the essence of free­dom.”

Trump’s re­sponse about Tiller­son’s in­tel­li­gence re­peats a theme for him. Af­ter news re­ports that Tiller­son once called the pres­i­dent a “mo­ron”, Trump chal­lenged him to an IQ con­test. “And I can tell you who is go­ing to win,” the pres­i­dent in­sisted.


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