Trump suggests he’s smarter than Rex Tillerson

11-10-2017

Trump’s tense relationship with Tillerson burst into public view last week. An NBC News story claimed Vice President Mike Pence had to talk Tillerson out of resigning this summer, and that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron.”

President Donald Trump suggested he’s smarter than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying in an interview published on Tuesday that if Mr. Tillerson did call him a moron, as reported, the two should “compare IQ tests.”

“And I can tell you who is going to win,” Mr. Trump said to Forbes magazine.

Mr. Trump’s tense relationship with Mr. Tillerson burst into public view last week. An NBC News story claimed Vice President Mike Pence had to talk Mr. Tillerson out of resigning this summer, and that Mr. Tillerson had called Mr. Trump a “moron.”

Mr. Tillerson said he never considered resigning, though he didn’t directly address the reported insult. His spokeswoman later said he never used such language.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Tillerson are scheduled to have lunch on Tuesday at the White House with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

State Department officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Trump has at times appeared to undercut Mr. Tillerson’s message on some of America’s most sensitive national security challenges, including Iran and North Korea. Mr. Tillerson also has publicly complained about the White House blocking him from making key appointments.

Still, last week Mr. Trump told reporters he has “total confidence” in his Secretary of State.

In the Forbes interview, done on Friday, Mr. Trump responded to criticism that he’s undermined his Secretary of State through his often provocative tweets that have interfered directly with ongoing diplomatic efforts.

“I’m not undermining,” Mr. Trump told Forbes. “I think I’m actually strengthening authority.”

As for Mr. Tillerson’s reported “moron” ‘comment, the President said, “I think it’s fake news. But if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”

The President launched a series of tweets on a wide range of topics on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Trump had said on Sunday there needs to be security enhancements and the border wall that he’s demanded before he’d sign onto a bill restoring a program that shields from deportation young people brought to the United States illegally when they were children.

Mr. Trump also said he would be acting on health care soon, saying- “I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people — FAST.” The White House has been finalizing an executive order that would expand health plans offered by associations to allow individuals to pool together and buy insurance outside their states.

The President also suggested the U.S. change its tax laws to punish organizations like the NFL if members are “disrespecting” the national anthem or flag. The NFL gave up its federal tax-exempt status a couple years ago and now files tax returns as a taxable entity.

Mr. Trump also tweeted on Tuesday that ESPN ratings have “tanked” because of Jemele Hill, the anchor suspended for making political statements on social media. While NFL viewership is down slightly, ESPN remains among the most popular cable networks, averaging 3 million viewers in prime time.

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