Amid reports that Rex Tillerson had considered stepping down from his position, the secretary of state held a rare press conference on Wednesday morning to deny rumors of rising tensions between him and President Donald Trump.
In response to an NBC News story that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron,” the secretary of state did not directly address whether he had actually insulted the president. Instead, he reaffirmed, “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 article said Tillerson was “on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House,” citing “senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time” as sources.
At the news conference, Tillerson went so far as to praise Trump’s foreign policy, which he had expressed distaste for over the past few months. “President Trump’s foreign policy goals break the mold of what people traditionally think is achievable in our country,” Tillerson said. The State Department arranged the press conference with haste as the NBC News story forced Tillerson to immediately address the situation. Trump slammed the reports, tweeting that NBC is “fake news.”
Tillerson dismissed reports that Vice President Mike Pence had to persuade him to remain in his post after his commitment had wavered. “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.