If Donald Trump challenging him to an IQ test weren’t embarrassing enough, Rex Tillerson reportedly had to endure the newly inaugurated president’s diatribe against U.S. laws banning American companies from bribing foreign officials. According to a story published in The New Yorker last Friday, the yet-to-be-confirmed state secretary encountered the particularly irritated Trump during a brief Oval Office meeting in early February. That’s when the Commander-in-Chief ” began fulminating about federal laws that prohibit American businesses from bribing officials overseas.”
Per Trump’s assessment of the situation, the businesses “were being unfairly penalized” for simply trying to get a leg up on the international competition — many of whom had no such laws to abide by in their home countries. Tillerson apparently disagreed, offering Trump a counter-example from at meeting with Yemeni officials he took while at ExxonMobile:
At the meeting, Yemen’s oil minister handed him his business card. On the back was written an account number at a Swiss bank. “Five million dollars,” the minister told him.
“I don”t do that,” Tillerson said. “Exxon doesn’t do that.” If the Yemenis wanted Exxon on the deal, he said, they’d have to play straight. A month later, the Yemenis assented.
According to an anonymous source with knowledge of Trump and Tillerson’s tense Oval Office meeting, “Tillerson told Trump that America didn’t need to pay bribes — that we could bring the world up to our own standards.” Whether or not the president got the message from his state secretary, however, remains a mystery — especially since, per his recent Forbes interview, Trump can’t seem to resist undercutting his own cabinet officials and White House staff. Then again, as the president recently told reporters following up on that interview’s content, he “did not undercut anybody. I don’t believe in undercutting anybody.”
(Via The New Yorker)