Tags: Trump Administration | NBC reporters | stand | rex tillerson | story

NBC Reporters Say They Stand Behind Tillerson Story

NBC Reporters Say They Stand Behind Tillerson Story
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 04 October 2017 01:25 PM

NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker and NBC national political staffer Carol Lee, two of the reporters who's reporting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was slammed by both him and President Donald Trump, said they are standing behind their story, even though the president has declared it as "fake news."

"Despite everything the secretary said, he actually didn't knock down our story," Lee said during MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" program. "Our story does not say that Mike Pence, the vice president, tried to convince Rex Tillerson to stay. It's very clear that Mike Pence's role in all of this has been to buck up the secretary, to give him a pep talk, to have conversations with him about how he might be more respectful to the president."

Further, she pointed out that Tillerson did not specifically deny calling Trump a "moron," even though he did refuse to discuss the question and called it "nonsense."

"He essentially gave a series of different policy issues in which he's saying the president has been successful on," said Lee. "He really backed the president, he supports the president. He also said he doesn't intend to go anywhere, that he's just getting started. It was very much, as our own Chuck Todd tweeted earlier, it very much seemed like a statement that was serving an audience of one, and that is the president."

About an hour before the show, Tillerson delivered a press statement to refute the NBC exclusive that claimed he both tried to quit his job in July, and also that he'd called the president a moron following a meeting at the Pentagon.

Welker noted that there has been a great deal of pushback over the story, but the tensions between Tillerson and Trump have been on display.

"We've reported on them widely, including over the weekend when the president tweeted, criticizing his own secretary of state for how he's handling the crisis in North Korea," said Welker. "So the president can call this fake news, but he himself has made it very clear that he's broken with his own secretary of state on a whole host of policy issues."

Just after Tillerson's statement, MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson slammed Trump for his tweets saying their story was fake news.

"Secretary Tillerson did not refute directly that he, in fact, called the president a moron in earshot of others," she noted. "The secretary didn't refute that. The secretary also did not refute that he perhaps threatened to resign, only saying that he 'never seriously considered it.'"

The story, she continued, was based on conversations between Lee, Welker and others in the organization with "all facets of the administration, multiple sources here. We are very comfortable in this reporting that there is tension — or had been tension — between the president and secretary of state."

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NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker and NBC national political staffer Carol Lee, two of the reporters who's reporting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was slammed by both him and President Donald Trump, said they are standing behind their story.
NBC reporters, stand, rex tillerson, story
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2017-25-04
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 01:25 PM
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