Tags: Trump Administration | trump | tillerson | resign | pence

Tillerson: I Never Considered Quitting

By    |   Wednesday, 04 October 2017 11:41 AM

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Wednesday strongly denied an NBC News report that he'd threatened to quit after a series of disputes with President Donald Trump, but refused to say whether he called the president a "moron," calling the question "petty nonsense."

"My commitment to the success of our president and our country is as strong as it was the day I accepted his offer to serve as Secretary of State," Tillerson said in a press appearance called hours after NBC News' story broke.

NBC told CNN's Brian Stelter that it  stood by its reporting.

"There is much to be done and we're just getting started," Tillerson said during his hurriedly planned announcement. "To address a few specifics that have been erroneously reported this morning, the vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as Secretary of State because I have never considered leaving this post. I value the friendship and the counsel of the vice president and I admire his leadership within President Trump's administration to address the many important agendas of President Trump."

Tillerson's press statement came shortly after Trump, who is heading to Las Vegas to meet with victims and first responders involved in Sunday's mass shooting event, tweeted an attack on NBC for its "fake news" reporting.

Trump also demanded an apology "to AMERICA" from NBC after Tillerson finished his statement.

Tillerson said he did not know Trump before accepting his appointment as Secretary of State, but has since learned that the president loves the United States and puts Americans and America first.

"He is smart," said Tillerson. "He demands results wherever he goes, and he holds those around him accountable for whether they've done the job he has asked them to do. Accountability is one of the bedrock values the president and I share."

Tillerson noted he is new to Washington, but he's learned there are many who try to "sow dissension" by"'tearing others apart" while trying to undermine Trump and his agenda.

"I do not and I will not operate that way, and the same applies to everyone on my team here at the State Department," Tillerson said. "When I wake up in the morning my first thoughts are about the safety of our citizens at home and abroad. There is no more important responsibility I carry with me than ensuring that Americans are safe."

As for the claims that he'd called Trump a "moron," Tillerson did not deny that report, but insisted that he will not "deal with petty stuff like that."

"This is what I don't understand about Washington," he said. "Again I'm not from this place. But the places I come from, we don't deal with that kind of petty nonsense. And it is intended to do nothing but divide people and I'm just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration."

Further, he insisted that Trump and the administration will remain as one team with one mission, while "doing great things for the United States of America to make America great again."

"President Trump's America First agenda has given voice to millions who felt completely abandoned by the political status quo and who felt their interests came second for those of other countries," said Tillerson. "President Trump's foreign policy goals break the mold of what people traditionally think is achievable on behalf of our country."

Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon/Mobile, said the Trump administration is finding new ways to govern that deliver new victories.

"We've created international unity around our peaceful pressure campaign against North Korea including influencing China to exert unprecedented economic influence on North Korea," said Tillerson.

He also listed other successes, including saying ISIS' fraudulent caliphate in Iraq and Syria is on the brink of extinction.

"What we have accomplished, we have done as a team," said Tillerson, listing the work that is being done by cabinet members to communicate and work together.

"General [James] Mattis and I communicate virtually every day and we agree there must be the highest level of coordination between our diplomatic efforts and our military efforts," said Tillerson. "You can't have a stronger partner than a secretary of defense who embraces diplomacy. And I hope he feels he has the partner he needs at the State Department. This is just the beginning of the list of partners and friends across the government who are all working for the American people."

Tillerson said the article did do one thing: reaffirm his commitment to the role that Trump asked him to serve, and to dispel the notion that he ever considered leaving.

"I have answered that question repeatedly," said Tillerson. "For some reason it continues to be misreported. There has never been a consideration in my mind to leave. I serve at the appointment of the president and I am here for as long as the president feels I can be useful to achieving his objectives."

The NBC News report said Tillerson had called the president a "moron" after a July 20 meeting with Trump's national security team and cabinet officials at the Pentagon.

NBC also reported that Tillerson nearly stepped down over the summer over a series of policy clashes and White House disputes. His frustrations reportedly reached an apex in late July around the time Trump made a politicized speech to the Boy Scouts of America, a group that was once lead by Tillerson.

The secretary of state was in Texas at the time of Trump's address and threatened not to return to Washington, NBC reported, citing unnamed inside sources.

NBC said Vice President Mike Pence later intervened and advised Tillerson how to ease the tension with Trump.

State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond, after the report was released early Wednesday, insisted Tillerson had not considered resigning and that he never called Trump a moron.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Wednesday strongly denied an NBC News report that he'd threatened to quit after a series of disputes with President Donald Trump, but refused to say whether he called the president a "moron," calling the question "petty nonsense."
trump, tillerson, resign, pence
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 11:41 AM
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