Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Dismisses Rumors of Trouble Between He and the President – “Only I Know When I’ll Be Leaving”

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reaffirmed his commitment to his role as chief U.S. diplomat in a 60 Minutes interview that aired last night, saying he is the only one who knows when he will step away from the role.

“I’m here to serve my country. I committed to this president. My word is my bond. I ride for this brand. That’s why I’m here. And nothing anybody else says is going to change that,” Tillerson said.

The one-time ExxonMobil CEO dealt with many rumors of strained ties with President Trump and much speculation that he is not long for the job at Foggy Bottom, where the State Dept. is located.  Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron” after a meeting with senior military personnel at the Pentagon last summer, in which, according to sources, President Trump expressed his desire to have the more nuclear weapons than any U.S. President in history.  Tillerson has called those rumors a distraction but notably has never expressly denied using that word.

During the interview though, Tillerson did reiterate that he and the President have a good working relationship.  They “typically will try to talk every day,” he said.  He also dismissed notions that there is daylight between the two on important policy issues.

“Well, as I said, the president communicates in his own style, his own way, his own words. And from time to time I — I will ask him, ‘Are you changing the policy? Because if we are, obviously I need to know, and everyone needs to know’…And…that has never happened. Every time I’ve talked to him he says, ‘No, the policy hasn’t changed.’ And I say let — then I’m good. That’s all I need to know,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson also downplayed the idea that he was dismantling the State Dept. by letting the most experienced, highest ranking foreign service officers go, and keeping critical posts vacant.

“Well, there’s been no dismantling at all of the State Department. We’ve got terrific — people, both foreign service officers, civil servants, that have stepped into those roles around the world [on an interim basis],” he said.

 

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