The dormant but troubled relationship between Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson exploded to the surface yesterday as the president called the former Secretary of State “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell”
On Thursday night, Tillerson made a rare public appearance and said some things that upset his former boss. He said in a Houston speech that he had to repeatedly tell Trump that some of the things he wanted to do were impossible because they were against the law or violated a treaty.
“WATCH: Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is speaking publicly about what led to his firing in March by President Trump. CBS News political contributor @bobschieffer interviewed Tillerson in Houston last night, at a dinner to benefit MD Anderson Cancer Center.”
WATCH: Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is speaking publicly about what led to his firing in March by President Trump.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) December 7, 2018
Tillerson told his audience:
“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 also said that Trump is “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, ‘This is what I believe.'”
The former cabinet members also raised concerns about the current state of American political dialogue which seems to be dominated by social media.
“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,” Tillerson said.
He then said that he didn’t mean his comments to be interpreted as criticism of Trump who spends a great deal of time on Twitter.
Trump was obviously offended and became outraged by Tillerson’s remarks. As he was flying back to Washington from an event in Missouri on Friday, he sent a tweet blasting his former cabinet secretary.
“Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him,” the president tweeted. “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!”
Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
Trump said Tillerson was “one of the truly great business leaders of the world” when he selected him as his first secretary of state in February 2017. Some people believe his main qualification was that, as CEO of Exxon, he had worked on a major joint oil development program with Russia.
But from day one there was conflict as they had disagreements on just about everything, including policy in North Korea, Qatar, Iran, Russia, China and the Paris climate accord.
And Trump’s New York personality never got along with Tillerson’s more reserved Texas personality.
Tensions exploded last summer after it was reported that Tillerson had called the president an “f’ing moron.” After that Trump forced Tillerson to make a public appearance to state his continued support for the president, although he never denied the reports about what he said.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.