Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has characterized himself as the guiding hand that tried to keep impetuous and results-oriented President Donald Trump from going outside the lines as dictated by treaties and laws.
Tillerson spoke out in an interview with CBS News political contributor Bob Schieffer, prompting a Twitter counterstrike from Trump, who on Friday called Tillerson “dumb as a rock.”
Tillerson claimed that the failure of the two to mesh was a difference in value systems.
“When the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do, and here’s how I want to do it,’ and I’d have to say to him, ‘Well, Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law, it violates the treaty, you know,” Tillerson said.
He said Trump became frustrated when Tillerson, who served from February 2017 to March 2018, pointed out the limits of what Trump could not do.
“I think he grew tired of me being the guy every day who told him he can’t do that and let’s talk about what he can do,” he said.
Tillerson said he told Trump he would fight to change laws and rules that Trump opposed.
“‘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.'”
He said Trump will act “on his instincts,” which was a vast change for Tillerson.
“What was challenging for me — coming from the disciplined, highly process-oriented ExxonMobil 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 kinda says, ‘Look, this is what I believe,'” Tillerson said.
Trump fired back with a tweet blasting Tillerson and praising his successor.
“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!” the president tweeted.
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
Tillerson said one thing Trump did do right was connect with the American people on issues of concern, but he questioned whether Trump’s inveterate use of Twitter and his success using it is a positive sign.
“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.
“I don’t want that to come across as a criticism of him,” he said. “It’s really a concern that I have about us as Americans and us as a society and us as citizens.”
During his appearance in Houston, Tillerson said there is no doubt in his mind that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
“What Russia wants to do is undermine our confidence and undermine the world’s confidence in us,” Tillerson said.
He said Russia’s “very calculating” leader Vladimir Putin is also “very opportunistic” and seeks to undermine American influence.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.