During an interview with Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Meet The Press host Chuck Todd confronted Tillerson directly about the Trump administration’s refusal to talk to Russia about their interference in the 2016 election, and it was what Tillerson didn’t say that spoke volumes about Trump’s guilt.
Transcript via Meet The Press:
Can you get on a better footing with them if you don’t address this issue of the Russian interference? I mean your counterpart, the Russian foreign minister, Mr. Lavrov, said that you guys didn’t even talk about this issue of Russian interference in our election because, as he put it, President Trump himself says it’s fake news, so it’s not an issue. Why haven’t you brought it up with them?
SECRETARY REX TILLERSON:
Well, Chuck, I think we have such a broad range of important issues that have to be addressed in the U.S.-Russia relationship. Obviously the interference in the election is one of those. I think it’s been well documented, it’s pretty well understood, the nature of that interference, here and elsewhere.
And you know, these are not new tactics on the part of the Russian government, directed not only at us but at others. But again, I think we have to look at this relationship in its broadest contours, and there are many, many important areas which require our attention if we are to bring it back to a relationship that we believe is necessary for the security of the U.S.
Mr. Secretary, though. This is fundamental. They interfered with our democracy. I just don’t understand how this is not a top issue for you to deal with them in order to, essentially, start with a clean slate. Can’t start with a clean slate until maybe they either own up to what they did, or we punish them in a way that they’re not going to do this again.
Judging from this exchange, Chuck Todd seems like he would definitely be a more trustworthy Secretary of State than Rex Tillerson, and Tillerson was interesting for what it didn’t reveal. The Secretary of State didn’t condemn Russia for interfering in the presidential election. Tillerson only mentioned election interference in a general sense as an issue to be dealt with. He never said that Russia would be punished and even more tellingly he never specifically mentioned Russian interference in the US election.
Tillerson’s answer was all about minimizing election interference and discussing how the world wants the United States and Russia to better friends.
The Secretary of State’s answer combined with the Comey firing and the NBC News interview paints a picture of a campaign and now an administration that is guilty of working with Russia to win a presidential election. Tillerson’s interview wasn’t the forceful response of Secretary of State who is interested in protecting democratic institutions. Tillerson sounded like a co-conspirator trying to minimize a crime.
Trump loves Tillerson’s job performance, but it was what the Secretary of State didn’t say that suggested that the Trump administration has a huge Russia skeleton in the closet.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association