Tillerson refuses to say if he called Trump a moron

Posted at 11:28 AM, Oct 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-04 11:28:47-04

(RNN) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said his commitment to President Donald Trump is strong  and denied that he threatened to resign after calling President Donald Trump a "moron" after a July meeting.

He also denied reports that Vice President Mike Pence had to persuade him to stay on after the outburst.

He said "quitting was never a consideration in my mind" in a Wednesday morning news conference. 

When asked directly about calling Trump a moron, Tillerson did not deny it. 

"I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that," he said in response. "This is what I don’t understand about Washington. Again, I'm not from this place, but the places I come from we don’t deal with that kind of petty nonsense." 

He reportedly exploded in front of Cabinet members and Trump's national security team according to NBC, which cited three unnamed "senior officials" as sources. CNN has also reported the story saying tensions are at an all-time high between the secretary and the president.

Tillerson was upset after Trump gave a controversial, politicized speech last July to the Boy Scouts, a group that Tillerson once led. NBC reported that Pence and other high-ranking officials had to talk him down. 

Chief of Staff John Kelley and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reassured him, and discord between Tillerson and the president simmered, sources said, but the conflict died down.

But recently, Trump tweeted that Tillerson was wasting his time in his dealings with North Korea.

The former ExxonMobil CEO’s nomination as Secretary of State passed a Senate panel by a 11-10 party line vote on Jan. 23. He was approved by the full Senate on a 56-43 vote mostly along party lines on Feb. 1. The GOP holds a 52-48 margin in the Senate. 

Tillerson, 64, came under scrutiny for his past business relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The backers of the oil industry veteran said his ties with the Russian leader were just part of the job for a CEO of a worldwide company.

The Texas graduate in civil engineering worked 41 years at Exxon, rising from an engineer to become CEO in 2006.

Tillerson earned a Distinguished Eagle Scout designation as a youth. He is a former member of the Boy Scouts of America Executive Committee, and served as national president of the Boy Scouts from 2010 to 2012.       

Copyright 2017 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.