Will Rex Tillerson Survive Having Called Trump A “Moron?”
Rex Tillerson held a press conference in order to dispel reports that he was infuriated with the President Trump over policy disputes and clashes with the White House to the extent that he was considering resignation, and was convinced otherwise via an intervention from Vice President Mike Pence. Within this same time frame this past summer, in a meeting at the Pentagon on July 20, 2017, Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron.”
Despite being clear that the there was no truth about Tillerson’s past desire to leave his post and that there was no division between him and Trump, he did not not deny that he called Trump a moron and simply stated that he would not address “petty” notions of that nature. Most political commentators took this as an admission that he did indeed call Trump a moron. I mean, consider this, if one were accused of calling one’s boss a moron and one unequivocally did not say that, wound’t one without hesitation deny the claim?
Trump for his part turned his ire against NBC news who broke the story banging the drum of “fake news media” and demanding an apology. NBC responded by re-affirming the integrity of their reporting and stands steadfastly stands by their story. Trump may have simply been faced with the choice of attacking his Secretary of State and losing one of the most important members of his cabinet or attacking the messenger. Attacking the messenger may have seemed the better calculus.
The question that remains is whether Trump can let this go. He is known to be a man who possesses very thin skin, is an avid watcher of cable news (even the ones he calls fake news), and is known to place loyalty above all in his expectations for his subordinates. Even if he truly chooses to not believe the NBC reporting, Trump cannot have missed the fact that Tillerson himself would not deny having called him a moron.
It will be interesting to see how this ultimately plays out. Rex Tillerson is by in large considered to be one of the “adults” int the Trump cabinet that keeps the administration from devolving from erratic and disorganized to outright chaos. His key role in world affairs including the North Korean nuclear stand off and the Iran nuclear deal topping the list, currently make him among the most important members of the Trump cabinet with an international resume that speaks for itself, and a clearly measured approach this administration desperately needs to maintain any semblance of stability. His loss of his own volition or at the hands of his boss as the result of his fragile ego could send shock waves through an already shaky and unstable administration.