What Ultimately Prompted Rex Tillerson to Call Trump a 'Moron'

President Donald Trump reportedly asked for a dramatic increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during the same Pentagon meeting where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called him a “f*cking moron.”


The president made the request July 20 after he was shown a briefing slide that charted the steady decline in American nukes over the last 50 years, according to three officials who were present for the meeting, reported NBC News.

Some officials who were present said they did not take Trump’s request, which amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in nuclear weapons, as a literal instruction, but they said the comments raised questions about his familiarity with U.S. policy and international treaties.

Two officials who were there said the president asked multiple times for more nuclear weapons, more U.S. troops and additional military equipment.

Trump’s advisers, including the joint chiefs of staff and Tillerson, were surprised by the comments and briefly explained the legal and practical hurdles to a nuclear buildup, according to NBC News.

They informed the president that current U.S. military posture is stronger than it was in the late 1960s, when the American nuclear arsenal was largest.

Trump also complained that his advisors had not yet presented a plan to help U.S. companies obtain mineral rights in Afghanistan, as China had a decade ago.

He compared the Afghanistan policy review to the renovation of Manhattan’s 21 Club, which closed for a year in the 1980s and hired a consultant whose only suggestion was to enlarge the kitchen.

As the meeting broke up, according to NBC News, Tillerson told officials remaining in the room that the president was a “f*cking moron.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close