Ok. This is uncomfortable.
All the rumors of tension between President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be just that – rumors – but when you keep hearing report after report of conflict or outright disrespect, at some point, it just takes on a ring of truth.
It all began back in July (supposedly), when Trump gave an oafish speech at the annual Boy Scout Jamboree.
Tillerson, an Eagle Scout, took offense to Trump’s trashing of the event by making it all about himself, and at some point, it was alleged that he called the president a “f***ing moron.”
There were other alleged offenses, like Tillerson’s tendency to ignore calls to his office.
The secretary was trotted out to give a press conference, denying that he was considering leaving, but he refused to directly say that he’d not called Trump a moron.
There was Trump’s outright undercutting of Tillerson, when he answered Tillerson’s calls for diplomacy with North Korea by tweeting out that he’d told him to not waste his time, and that we’d do what needed to be done.
Next came the rumors that Tillerson was about to be replaced by Trump loyalist, Mike Pompeo, with Senator Tom Cotton taking over as the head of the CIA.
That was quickly denied, as well.
Well, get ready for the latest, and this one is a doozy.
A new report from the Washington Post states that administration officials are saying, outright, that Tillerson has no authority and does not speak for the administration.
“I think our allies know at this point he’s not really speaking for the administration,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the newspaper. The same person described Tillerson as “irrelevant” due to the influence of other diplomats and Cabinet officials.
So what is Tillerson’s purpose, if not to be the top diplomat for the administration?
This is a high level of disrespect, and it’s meant to further alienate Tillerson. This would follow the Trump pattern, of course, in where he must belittle and intimidate those he considers beneath him, forcing them out, rather than facing them as a professional.
One official told the Post that Tillerson “had not learned his lesson from the last time” when Trump rebuked him on Twitter about trying to talk to North Korea.
Tillerson has repeatedly called for diplomatic means of dealing with the rogue nation, and has even suggested that until that first bomb falls, that we would attempt diplomacy over outright war.
Of course, the White House is denying these latest reports, as well. White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah commented to WaPo that Trump was still pleased with Rex Tillerson in his position as Secretary of State.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told the newspaper that Tillerson “enjoys a strong relationship with the president. Most importantly, they share a commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, the security of our homeland and the protection of our allies.”
That sounds like they’re trying too hard, given the reports coming out.
This is one we’re going to have to watch, and if Tillerson makes a sudden departure, nobody should be surprised.