Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson broke his public silence about the events that led to his firing by tweet in March, saying Donald Trump grew frustrated with his repeated insistence that actions the president wanted to take would violate the law.
“When the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do, and here’s how I want to do it,’ 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 treaty,’” Tillerson said in an interview Thursday with Bob Schieffer of CBS News in Houston. “You know, he got really frustrated.”
“I think he grew tired of me being the guy every day that told him he can’t do that and let’s talk about what we can do,” Tillerson said.
The comments marked the first time Tillerson has opened up about the discord that led to his dismissal, soon after he returned to the U.S. from a diplomatic trip to Africa. The pair’s inability to get along was an open secret, especially after NBC News reported in October 2017 that Tillerson had referred to Trump as a “moron.”
Tillerson never directly denied the report, saying he wouldn’t dignify it with a response. He left it to his spokeswoman, Heather Nauert -- who Trump is now nominating to serve as United Nations ambassador -- to deny it for him.
While Tillerson didn’t discuss whether he’d called the president a moron, his comments in the new interview left few doubts about his views.
“We did not have a common values system,” Tillerson said. The former Exxon Mobil Corp. chief described Trump as “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.”’