(CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday disputed a news report that claimed he considered resigning from his post over the summer and refused to address what he called “petty nonsense,” when questioned on whether it was true that he called President Donald Trump “a moron."
“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,” Tillerson said at a press conference at the State Department.
“I value the friendship and the counsel of vice president, and I admire his leadership within President Trump’s administration to address the many important agendas of President Trump - both from a foreign policy perspective and … domestic objective,” he said.
NBC News reported Wednesday that Tillerson was on the verge of quitting after “mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House.”
Citing “three officials familiar with the incident,” NBC claimed the secretary “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.”
It even claimed that Vice President Mike Pence “counseled Tillerson … on ways to ease tensions with Trump” and that “other top administration officials urged him to remain in the job at least until the end of the year.”
“Let me tell you what I’ve learned about this president, whom I did not know before taking this office. He loves this country. He puts Americans and America first. He’s smart. He demands results wherever he goes, and he holds those around him accountable for whether they’ve done the job he’s asked them to do. Accountability is one of the bedrock values the president and I share,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson said there are some who want to undermine Trump’s agenda by sowing dissension.
“While I’m new to Washington, I have learned that there are some who try to sow dissension to advance their own agenda by tearing others apart in an effort to undermine President Trump’s own agenda,” he said.
“I do not, and I will not operate that way, and the same applies to everyone on my team here at the State Department. When I wake up in the morning, my first thoughts are about the safety of our citizens at home and abroad. There’s no more important responsibility I carry with me than ensuring that Americans are safe,” Tillerson added.
When asked if that was the only thing the secretary considered erroneous in the article, Tillerson said, “I think it’s the most important element of the article is to reaffirm my commitment to this role that President Trump’s asked me to serve and to dispel with this notion that I have ever considered leaving. I have answered that question repeatedly.
“For some reason, it continues to be misreported. There’s 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,” he stressed.
When asked to address the report that he called the president a moron, Tillerson said, “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that. I mean this is what I don’t understand about Washington. 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.”
After Tillerson spoke, the president 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!"