The Slatest

Rex Tillerson Refuses to Say Whether He Called Trump a “Moron”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives for a meeting with the Organization of American States’ Secretary General on October 13,2017 at the State Department in Washington D.C.

ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined several opportunities on Sunday to clarify whether he had called President Donald Trump a “moron.” The former Exxon Mobil CEO rejected each opportunity to clarify the issue, saying he wouldn’t dignify it with a response. “As I said, Jake, I’m not playing,” Tillerson told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “These are the games of Washington. These are the destructive games of this town. They’re not helpful to anyone. And so my position is: I’m not playing … You want to make a game out of it? I’m not playing.”

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Tapper pressed the issue, telling Tillerson the obvious point that if he refused to answer many would see it as a tacit admission that he did in fact call the commander in chief a “moron.” But that strategy didn’t work on Tillerson. “I’m not dignifying the question with an answer, Jake,” the secretary said, again refusing to say whether he had insulted the president. “And I’m a little surprised you want to spend so much time on it.”

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The non-answer answer on the “moron” question is not a new strategy for Tillerson, who also refused to answer the question during a news conference earlier this month. But State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert later said that Tillerson “does not use that language to speak about anyone.”

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During Sunday’s interview, Tillerson also played coy when asked to respond to claims by Sen. Bob Corker that Trump “publicly castrate[d]” his secretary of State. He refused to answer the question directly and once again focused on how Washington “actually enjoys the status quo.” Tillerson then went on to note that Trump is “certainly the most unique president we have ever seen in modern history.” When Tapper pressed the issue, Tillerson quipped: “I checked, I’m fully intact.”

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