Tillerson to VMI grads: Democracy is in danger
WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took a veiled shot at President Donald Trump on Wednesday, warning that a growing crisis has put democracy at risk.
In remarks to graduates of Virginia Military Institute, Tillerson lamented assaults on facts that he said would lead to a loss of freedom if not countered. And he said that only societies able to pursue the truth and challenge alternate realities can be truly free.
“When we ... go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem to be the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America,” Tillerson said. “If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society among our leaders in both public and private sector ... then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”
Tillerson did not mention Trump by name Wednesday but alluded to some policies of the Trump administration by decrying those who neglect or ignore longstanding allies or deny that free trade is an engine of global growth.
Tillerson was asked to be VMI’s commencement speaker before Trump fired him in mid-March after months of tension between the men. Trump later said he didn’t see eye to eye with Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO, and had more in common with CIA chief Mike Pompeo, who took over as secretary of state.