Rex Tillerson Sort Of Denies Calling Trump A Moron: ‘I’m Not Going To Deal With Petty Stuff Like That’

Shortly after a NBC News report suggesting he’d referred to Donald Trump as a “moron” in July went viral, State Secretary Rex Tillerson announced a rare, impromptu press conference. The former CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson apparently didn’t want the job to begin with, and his tenure has been rife with tension — both from the State Department itself, and from Trump. During Wednesday morning’s previously unscheduled press conference, however, America’s 69th secretary of state reaffirmed his commitment to the White House and to Trump himself. He also denied calling the president a “moron.”

“Can you address the main headline of this story?” asked one reporter. “That you called the president a moron?” “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,” a visibly frustrated Tillerson responded. “This is what I don’t understand about Washington. I’m not from this place, but the places I come from, we don’t deal with that kind of petty nonsense. It is intended do nothing but divide people. I’m just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration.”

As for the story’s other significant bit of information, that Vice President Mike Pence has to convince Tillerson not to resign in July, the latter unequivocally denied this was the case. “To address a few specifics that have been erroneously reported this morning,” he began, “The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state because I have never considered leaving this post. I value the friendship and the council of the vice president, and I admire his leadership within President Trump’s administration.”

Whether or not Tillerson’s praise for Pence here is actually a secret, coded message to ol’ 46 remains to be seen. Considering Trump’s many tweets against NBC News throughout the morning, however, 45 probably didn’t detect it, so Tillerson and Pence are still in the clear. Check out the state secretary’s full remarks below.

UPDATE: According to the Associated Press, a State Department spokesperson officially denied Tillerson had ever called Trump a “moron” following the secretary’s surprise press conference Wednesday morning.

(Via CNN)