Tillerson says he won’t quit but doesn’t deny calling Trump a ’moron’

Orient Net 2017-10-04 22:01:00

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The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has denied he has considered resignation and pledged loyalty to Donald Trump in the wake of a report that he had called the president a “moron”.

“There has never been a consideration in my mind to leave. I serve at the appointment of the president and I’m here as long as the president thinks I can be useful to achieving his objectives,” Tillerson said at a hastily arranged press appearance on Wednesday.

But he did not deny the report on NBC News on Wednesday morning that he had derided Trump as a “moron” in a meeting of White House national security officials and members of the cabinet. Instead, he shrugged off the report as “petty nonsense” and issued a stream of praise for the president.

“He loves his country. He puts America and Americans first. He’s smart. He demands results wherever he goes and he holds those around him accountable for whether they have done the job he has asked him to do,” Tillerson said.

Moments after his statement, CNN also reported that he had called Trump a moron and that Trump had been made aware of it.

After Tillerson’s appearance, the state department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, held a separate press conference and denied Tillerson had called the president a moron, insisting: “He never said that.”

For those who wanted him to resign, Nauert said: “Go ahead and keep pushing, because that will only strengthen his resolve.”

The secretary of state said he had not talked to the president on Wednesday morning before making his statement, saying Trump was on his way to Las Vegas. But the president was clearly watching Tillerson, tweeting within a few minutes.

“The NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec Tillerson and VP Pence. It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!” Trump wrote.