Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday denied he has ever considered resigning from his post. Tillerson gave an unscheduled statement after NBC News reported he was on the verge of quitting over the summer, calling Trump a moron and prompting Mike Pence to intervene.
“My commitment to the success of the president and the country is as strong as it was” upon taking office, Tillerson told reporters Wednesday at the State Department in Washington. “I have never considered leaving this post.”
"The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of State because I have never considered leaving," he told reporters at the State Department. Tillerson refused to deny a claim in the report that he called President Trump a "moron" following tense meeting with national security officials over the summer.
Tillerson said of the 'moron' report, “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.” He added that he hasn’t spoken to the president on Wednesday morning.
Notably, President Trump appeared to refer to the report in a Twitter post just moments before Tillerson spoke, saying “NBC news is #FakeNews and more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insists he "never considered" resigning from Donald Trump's administration pic.twitter.com/XcWdujxF0b— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 4, 2017
Headlines from Tillerson's address:
- *TILLERSON SAYS COMMITMENT TO TRUMP, COUNTRY AS STRONG AS EVER
- *TILLERSON: TRUMP'S FOREIGN POLICY GOALS BREAK TRADITIONAL MOLD
- *TILLERSON: `WE'RE FINDING NEW WAYS TO GOVERN'
- *TILLERSON SAYS TRUMP ADMIN. IS DELIVERING RESULTS FOR U.S.
- *TILLERSON SAYS TRUMP OFFICIALS HAVE WORKED AS A TEAM
- *TILLERSON SAYS HE TALKS WITH MATTIS VIRTUALLY EVERY DAY
- *TILLERSON: MUST BE CLOSE TIES IN DIPLOMATIC, DEFENSE EFFORTS
- *TILLERSON: `WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED'
- *TILLERSON SAYS HE'S NEVER CONSIDERED LEAVING HIS POST
- *TILLERSON: TRUMP LOVES COUNTRY, PUTS AMERICANS FIRST
- *TILLERSON: WILL SERVE AS SEC. OF STATE AS LONG AS TRUMP WANTS
- *TILLERSON: WON'T DEAL WITH `PETTY STUFF' AFTER `MORON' REPORT
- *TILLERSON: WON'T BE PART OF EFFORT TO DIVIDE ADMINISTRATION
Update: according to Politico, Rex Tillerson is not resigning. Furthermore, in an apparent intervention by the president, moments ago Donald Trump tweeted that "NBC news is #FakeNews and more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!"
NBC news is #FakeNews and more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2017
It appears that Rex is safe for the time being.
* * *
U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson is set to deliver a statement to the media shortly, whose "topic is unknown" according to Reuters, although following today's report from NBC that he had called Trump a "moron" after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, there is speculation that Tillerson will offer his resignation.
As we reported earlier, the tensions between Trump and the former Exxon CEO reportedly came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, NBC reported citing officials familiar.
Tillerson, who was in Texas for his son’s wedding in late July when Trump addressed the Boy Scouts, had threatened not to return to Washington, according to three people with direct knowledge of the threats. His discussions with retired Gen. John Kelly, who would soon be named Trump’s second chief of staff, and Defense Secretary James Mattis, helped initially to reassure him, four people with direct knowledge of the exchanges said.
At that time, however, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert responded to speculation that Tillerson was thinking about resigning by saying he was “committed to staying” and was “just taking a little time off” in Texas.
Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a "moron" after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials. NBC notes that while it's unclear if he was aware of the incident, VP Mike Pence "counseled Tillerson", who is fourth in line to the presidency, on ways to ease tensions with Trump, and other top administration officials urged him to remain in the job at least until the end of the year.
Following the NBC report, the President of the Council of Foreign Relations, Richard Haas, called on Tillerson to resign:
Rex Tillerson has been dealt a bad hand by the Potus & has played it badly. For both reasons he cannot be effective SecState & should resign— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) October 4, 2017
to clarify: would be hard 4 anyone to do well as secstate given policy (leaving TPP,Paris), Potus tweeting, lack of staff & $, WH staff role— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) October 4, 2017
Should Tillerson indeed resign, it is unclear if it will be dollar negative or positive, as the rising risks of geopolitical escalation without the SecState to "buffer" Trump's id, will likely make the probability of geopolitical conflict greater, which however these days could be either good or bad for the dollar.