Tag Archives: Rex Tillerson

Tillerson bucks Trump again … this time on Russia

What?

You mean to say that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson thinks Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election?

Why, I thought the president of the United States has called it “fake news,” that the Russians wouldn’t do such a thing, that their president, Vladimir Putin, told him they didn’t do it — and that Donald Trump believes him!

Isn’t that what we’ve been told by the Liar in Chief?

Tillerson reportedly made his feelings known privately. But I guess they aren’t quite so private these days now that the world knows what the secretary of state believes about the Russian hanky-panky.

The secretary is on thin ice as it is with the president, who’s reportedly working on an exit strategy to remove Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson opposed Trump’s decision to de-certify the Iran nuclear deal, and the withdrawal from the Paris climate change accord.

He called the president a “moron” and then pointedly declined to take it back when he was asked about it.

Now we have this item in which Tillerson bucks the Big Man yet again on the Russian interference matter. Actually, Tillerson is far from alone in believing the Russians sought to meddle in the election. If anything, it’s Trump who’s singing solo in his refusal to sign on to what intelligence analysts all have said happened.

However, Trump is the president. Tillerson works at his “pleasure.” My guess is that the president is not feeling too pleased with this latest sign of diplomatic mutiny.

Will he stay or will he go?

In a world fraught with peril in seemingly every region, the world’s most indispensable nation needs a top diplomat with unqualified support from the head of state.

Does Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have such support from Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States?

Um, no. Not even close.

There are reports that Trump is engineering a way to shove Tillerson out the door. The president now responds that “Rex is here,” meaning, I suppose, that he’s staying put.

Tillerson hasn’t exactly distinguished himself as secretary of state, other than to call the president a “f****** moron,” and then refuse to deny he said such a thing. Trump responded with a cheeky, childish tweet about how he would score better than Tillerson on an IQ test.

Isn’t that just swell?

This back and forth between the president and the secretary of state is unsettling in the extreme.

It has to stop. The president either needs to give the secretary his unqualified support or he needs to get someone on board who can speak for the president … without getting undermined.

Clock is ticking on Rex T at State

I guess the die was cast when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the president of the United States a “f****** moron” and then pointedly refused to deny he said it.

The word is out that the White House is working on an ouster strategy that would send Tillerson packing and would install CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the next top diplomat.

Change is on its way … allegedly

It’s probably good that Tillerson will be replaced. He hasn’t been a particularly effective secretary of state. I mean, the guy seeks to open direct talks with North Korean leaders in connection with their foolish plans to develop a nuclear arsenal and then is told — via Twitter — that the president believes he is “wasting his time.”

The head of the State Department cannot function when he is being undermined so publicly by the president who appointed him to this highly important and sensitive job.

The word, too, has been Trump and Tillerson are not close. They never had met before Trump asked Tillerson to become secretary of state. That’s no surprise, though, given that Trump had virtually zero contact with anyone outside his own circle of business associates.

Would a Secretary Pompeo — a former congressman from Kansas — fare better than Secretary Tillerson? Well, the way I see it, the bar has been set so low with the Trump-Tillerson non-relationship that it cannot possibly be much worse.

The ‘moron’ now becomes the ‘dope’

One man’s “moron” is another man’s “dope.”

Is that how it goes these days inside the White House, the center of power of the United States, the place where the Leader of the Free World practices his statecraft?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson famously called Donald J. Trump a “bleeping moron.” When asked whether he said such a thing, Tillerson didn’t come close to denying it, saying only that he wouldn’t engage in “petty” discussions.

Now comes national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who reportedly called the president an “idiot” and a “dope” and someone with the attention span and intelligence of a kindergartner.

I’m feeling the burn, which more than likely is being lost on the target of the epithet.

The White House, to no one’s surprise, denies McMaster — a U.S. Army lieutenant general and an expert on terrorism — said such a thing.

What does one think about all of this?

I get no satisfaction hearing about this level of disparagement coming from top hands within a presidential administration. I consider it virtually unheard of at this level of government.

I know what I’ve said about the president, how I don’t believe he is suited temperamentally to hold the office to which he was elected. He has uttered some remarkably intemperate, inarticulate and indelicate statements since entering political life in June 2015.

Trump’s knowledge of any sort of intimate details of anything remains suspect to anyone who’s watched this man operate.

Finally, I am left to wonder if anyone should be surprised that Lt. Gen. McMaster — an acknowledged expert on national security — would say the president lacks the understanding of the complexities these issues present.

I’m now waiting for McMaster himself to deny saying it.

Now POTUS welcomes talks with North Korea

Donald J. Trump is all over the pea patch regarding North Korea.

The president a few weeks ago tweeted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was wasting his time seeking a direct meeting with North Koreans regarding that country’s threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States and South Korea.

Oh, but while visiting South Korea this week, the president has let it be known that he would be willing to talk to North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un.

Which is it, Mr. President?

Frankly, I welcome the second overture far more than the first one.

Trump did offer some tough rhetoric during a speech this week to the South Korean parliament, warning the North about “underestimating” the United States. He told Kim that his efforts to bolster his nuclear arsenal put his regime in “grave danger.”

That all might be so much bluster and bravado if negotiation remains somewhere on the large table of options.

I continue to believe, as many others have said publicly, that there is no “good” military option in seeking to “de-nuclearize” the Korean Peninsula. A diplomatic solution is the only sensible path.

My strongest hope is that the president is going to lead the nation down that path, rather than the one that is fraught with grave danger for the entire planet.

Settled: Rex T called Trump a ‘moron’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been given more chances than he likely cares to count to take back a news report that he called Donald John Trump a “bleeping moron.”

Tillerson keeps clamming up. He did it again today on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He won’t engage in “petty” matters. Let’s move on, Tillerson said.

OK, then. The more he refuses to take back what NBC News reported he said the more it becomes clear: Tillerson called the president a “moron.”

The men reportedly have a testy relationship, which is a difficult circumstance, given the state of the world these days. North Korea is threatening to blow up South Korea; the Middle East remains a powder keg with several fuses lit; those pesky Russians keep hacking into other countries’ electoral systems, just as they did ours in 2016.

Tillerson made some appearances today on the news talk shows to say he’s still on the job, he’s still offering Trump his opinions on this and that, and that he intends to keep serving the president.

My question always arises when Donald Trump is involved: How much longer can someone like Tillerson, himself a big-time business mogul before entering public service, continue to work at the pleasure of someone who doesn’t have a clue about how to govern the world’s greatest nation?

Tillerson has exactly distinguished himself as secretary of state. Then again, he hasn’t been given a chance to put his stamp on the nation’s diplomatic strategy. The chaos continues within the Trump administration — and it’s all a direct reflection of the man who calls the shots.

As Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., points out so, um, graphically: You can’t “publicly castrate” a secretary of state. Tillerson insists that he remains “fully intact.”

We’ll see.

That POTUS, what a card!

I can’t stop laughing out loud over the “joke” that Donald J. Trump told about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Maybe you’ve heard it.

Trump was being interviewed by Forbes magazine and he suggested that he and Tillerson take IQ tests. The president, as you might imagine, was suggesting he possessed more intellectual firepower than the secretary of state.

The statement came in response to Tillerson reportedly calling Trump a “moron” earlier this summer. The president will have none of that, as you might imagine. Thus, he told Forbes about the IQ test.

Now we hear from the White House that Trump was joking. He didn’t really mean it. He didn’t really question Tillerson’s intelligence. He didn’t really mean that he’s smarter than the average bear.

As Politico reports: Trump told Forbes in his interview that he did not believe Tillerson had called him a “moron,” which NBC News reported he had, but that if he did, “we’ll have to compare IQ tests.”

“I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win,” Trump said.

There’s also this, also from Politico: President Donald Trump was making “a joke” when he challenged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to an IQ test in an interview with Forbes, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday afternoon.

“The president certainly never implied that the secretary of state was not incredibly intelligent. He made a joke, nothing more than that,” Sanders said. “He has full confidence in the secretary of state. They had a great visit earlier today. And they are working hand in hand to move the president’s agenda forward.”

The “full confidence” and the “great visit earlier today” would seem to belie what has been reported widely throughout Washington since the “moron” comment became known. Which is that Trump and Tillerson don’t trust each other as far either of them can throw the other guy.

Perhaps that’s why I don’t believe that the president was joking. If he was, he needs to work on his comedic timing.

Who likes being called a ‘moron’?

I hereby intend to give Donald J. Trump the benefit of the doubt.

It’s a slight benefit. It’s not huge. I’ll give it to him nevertheless.

The president of the United States seems destined to part company with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The two men haven’t meshed. They didn’t know each other before Trump picked Tillerson to become the nation’s top diplomat.

If he fires Tillerson, I can understand why he would do such a thing. No one likes to be called a “moron,” which Tillerson reportedly did this summer in a meeting at the Pentagon.

I wouldn’t like being called such a thing. No one ever has called me a “moron,” at least to the best of my knowledge. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many colleagues over 37 years as a working stiff in daily journalism. Some or perhaps many of them might have thought of me as a moron; they never blurted it out loud as Tillerson did … allegedly.

Trump-Tillerson furor heats up

Have I worked for any morons? Oh, you bet I have. However, I’ve usually avoided saying it aloud to where the object of my scorn might hear about it. Trump certainly has heard about Tillerson’s insulting remark. He reportedly is furious with Tillerson.

Now, having said all this about Trump and giving him the benefit of the doubt, I need to comment briefly on the supreme irony contained in this tempest.

Trump has hurled many insults as a private business mogul and as a politician. They have been hurtful. They have caused pain. They have been vicious. They run counter to the Golden Rule that Scripture tells us to follow, the one about doing “unto others as you have them do unto you.”

The difference, though, is that Trump didn’t insult his bosses. He’s usually been the “boss” in private life and now, quite obviously, in this new job he occupies as head of state.

Still, I am thinking about the cliché we’ve often heard about “being able to dish it out but not being able to take it.” Still, no one — especially Donald Trump — likes being called a “moron,” even if the epithet contains more than a nugget of truth.

Retirement liberates GOP senator

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker is a free man these days.

The Tennessee Republican has announced his impending retirement from the Senate — and is now free to speak his mind.

Take, for example, his statement this week about three of Donald Trump’s key advisers and how they manage to save the United States from the “chaos” created by the president.

He spoke of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly. These men, said Corker, are managing to maintain some semblance of order.

Corker speaks out

Corker didn’t wait to announce his retirement before speaking candidly about Trump. After the president’s hideous reaction to the Charlottesville riot — including the “many sides are responsible” comment — Corker said the president “hasn’t yet demonstrated” the competence he needs to lead the nation.

Now this latest critique in which he said, “I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

Oh, and of course we now have Tillerson reportedly firing off an enraged comment in a meeting that he believes the president is a “moron.” It’s also been reported that Tillerson attached a descriptive and profane adjective in front of “moron.” He has not denied saying it.

There you have it. A president with no prior government or public service experience of any kind is now leading the world’s greatest nation. Except that he’s incapable of exhibiting the temperament he needs to avoid the “chaos” that he invites whenever and wherever possible.

Trump’s fans applaud him for “telling it like it is.” Now such much-needed candor and honesty are coming from the mouths of the president’s “allies.”

Retirement can be a liberating experience … don’t you think?

Now it’s Rex vs. the ‘Moron’

If you sit in the quietest room you can find, take very shallow breaths and don’t move a muscle, you just might be able to hear the “tick, tick, tick” of a clock.

It would be a device that is ticking down the time that Rex Tillerson has remaining as the country’s secretary of state.

The nation’s top diplomat reportedly thinks his boss, the president, is a “moron.” He said as much in a Pentagon meeting this past summer. He reportedly cannot fathom why Donald J. Trump says and does certain things.

Then, when given a chance today to disavow what NBC News has reported about the “moron” comment, he didn’t do so. He said only that he doesn’t discuss “petty things.” Tillerson said he won’t go there.

He made no denial. He didn’t declare that he believes the president is a genius. No. The “moron” comment stands.

How does any president of the United States — let alone one named Trump — handle this? How should he handle it?

If I were a betting man, I would guess that Rex Tillerson has just written his exit interview from the Department of State.

One can argue all day and half the night into whether Tillerson has done a good job at State. However, I feel quite confident that a lot of Americans way out here past the D.C. Beltway believe as he reportedly does about the president of the United States.