Rex Tillerson Called Trump a 'Moron' as He Considered Resigning as Secretary of State

Over the summer, America was in the strange position of having a Secretary State who was missing in action. For days, questions about Tillerson’s location or activities were deflected as it appeared he had taken his oil wells and gone home. As it turns out, Tillerson didn’t just stomp his foot and leave without saying a few choice words.


Just days earlier, Tillerson had 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, according to three officials familiar with the incident.

The most obvious point of contention at the time was Trump’s public dressing down of Attorney General Jefferson Sessions for the crime of recusing himself from the Russia investigation. But it appears the biggest reason Tillerson blew up at Trump was actually the speech Donald Trump delivered to the Boy Scouts. As a former leader of the Scouts, Tillerson was disgusted by Trump's speech—a speech in which Trump told the scouts heartwarming stories of a millionaire and his sex yacht, called the nation’s capital a “cesspool,” bragged about the size of the crowd, started the War on Christmas in July, and complained about the lack of personal loyalty among his staff. It was a speech so awful that the Boy Scouts issued a statement distancing itself from Trump’s words.

But it was far from the only point of contention. From Qatar to North Korea, Tillerson has found himself crossed up by Trump’s seeming inability to conduct a reasonable foreign policy.

Meanwhile, as Tillerson fumes over Trump, the one consistent policy between them has been the utter destruction of the State Department.

But anyone expecting either a public resignation or any reference at all to Moronghazi is bound to be disappointed.

Over the last few months, I’ve watched as more and more of the brightest, most dedicated up-and-coming officers I know resign from their posts. The U.S. government is quietly losing its next generation of foreign policy leaders—an exodus that could undermine our institutions and interests for decades to come.

It’s hard to be a diplomat in an administration that belittles the whole idea of diplomacy. Trump doesn’t consider just Tillerson’s attempts to resolve tensions with North Korea somewhere short of a nuclear exchange as “wasted,” he’s said similar things about all such efforts.

Rex Tillerson is already a former CEO who believes his experience in negotiating oil deals means that he has no need for most of the staff, knowledge, or skill set of the State Department. But Donald Trump doesn’t even believe there’s a need for Tillerson. The result is rising tensions with North Korea, an abandoned effort to do anything about Syria, a degrading of relationships with allies, and no progress on trade agreements.

Trump’s team of “the best deal makers” who were going to overthrow all the terrible deals negotiated by career diplomats with decades of experience and reams of knowledge on specific cultures and conflict have proven themselves extremely capable of walking away from agreements and absolutely incapable of making any new deals at all.

The only thing that stopped Tillerson from walking out in anger, appears to be what had to be the happiest meeting on earth.

After Tillerson’s return to Washington, Pence arranged a meeting with him, according to three officials. During the meeting, Pence gave Tillerson a “pep talk,” one of these officials said, but also had a message: the secretary needed to figure out how to move forward within Trump’s policy framework.

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