Secretary of State Rex Tillerson firmly denied Wednesday he had considered resigning from Donald Trump’s cabinet and refused to comment on claims he had once called the president a “moron.”
Washington’s top diplomat held a news conference to respond to a report that he had used insulting language about Trump at a Pentagon meeting in July and that Vice President Mike Pence had persuaded him not to quit.
“There’s never been a consideration in my mind to leave,” the former oil executive said, from a podium in the Treaty Room of the State Department.
“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.”
Tillerson refused to directly address the most damaging allegation in Wedndesday’s detailed NBC News report — that he had called Trump a “moron” in front of senior officials at a July 20 meeting at the Department of Defense.
Instead, he alleged that unidentified others were spreading malicious rumors to tear down the president’s agenda.
“I do not and I will not operate that way,” he said, expressing support for the president’s foreign policy goals and listing what he sees as the administration’s achievements.
He praised his cabinet colleagues and promised: “There’s much to be done and we’re just getting started.”
Shortly after Tillerson’s statement, Trump tweeted: “The @NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec. Tillerson and @VP Pence. It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!”