NBC News continues to report on the raging animosity between President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:
Four senior administration officials said Trump first learned on Wednesday that Tillerson had disparaged him [by calling him a “moron"] after a July 20 national security meeting at the Pentagon. Trump vented to [Chief of Staff John F.] Kelly Wednesday morning, leading Kelly to scrap plans to travel with the president to Las Vegas to meet with victims and first responders in Sunday’s mass shooting. Trump was furious when he saw the NBC News report, which was published shortly before 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Unsurprisingly, the president, according to NBC, was further enraged when Tillerson wouldn’t deny the “moron” remark. No one will ever label Right Turn as an apologist for Trump, but a subordinate cannot treat his boss, especially the president, this way. He can’t bad mouth him to others and then publicly let it be known that he did so. If he was loyal to the president, he should have fibbed; if he cannot do so, he should have quit. It’s mind-boggling that Tillerson is intent on staying on. It’s even more stunning that Kelly hasn’t figured out Tillerson needs to go and helped facilitate that.
Trump naturally has lost confidence and patience with his underling, tweeting out a message over the weekend for Tillerson to stop wasting his time talking to North Korea. “It badly undercuts Secretary Tillerson’s ability to make deals,” says Kori Schake of the Hoover Institution. “More importantly, it badly undercuts President Trump’s ability to bring the American public and allied governments along if we should actually have to go to war against North Korea. Negotiations are an essential precursor to prepare our public.” So now the feud is driving U.S. policy. Swell.
Vice President Pence is also furious at Tillerson, with good reason:
Pence was incensed upon learning from the NBC report that Tillerson’s top spokesman had said he once privately questioned the value of Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Officials said the spokesman, R.C. Hammond, fabricated an anecdote that Pence had asked Tillerson in a meeting whether Haley, who is seen as a possible successor [to] Tillerson, is helpful or harmful to the administration.
If that is true (the vice president gets lied to about a lot in this administration, by the way), why hasn’t Tillerson fired Hammond by now? Tillerson apparently doesn’t think it is unacceptable to make up an embarrassing tale about the VP.
Tillerson is practically without allies, unliked by his department, resented by the White House, disdained by Congress and ignored by foreign leaders. The Post reports:
Tillerson has repeatedly ended up on the losing side of important policy discussions, and people familiar with White House views say Trump resents him for the debates he has won, including a grudging decision last month to add U.S. forces to the inconclusive 16-year war in Afghanistan.
He also complained to friends about competing power centers and a culture of backstabbing within the Trump administration that is very different from the top-down corporate culture he left. That same corporate experience gave Tillerson a background in the sensitivities and demands of a large and diverse workforce, and appeared to inform his clear disagreement with Trump over Charlottesville.
So he’s a walking corpse in the administration. (“‘Tillerson has no help. No team, no natural allies, and he’s not hiring anyone,’ one former senior official said. ‘There’s a kind of death spiral.'”) And this brings us to the ultimate question: Why in the world hasn’t he tendered his resignation? It’s neither patriotic nor admirable to remain in a job which one is unable to perform and in which your presence is negatively impacting the country’s well-being.
Maybe Condi Rice, Robert Gates and Stephen Hadley, who apparently cooked up the idea of Tillerson becoming secretary, should correct their error and help Tillerson and their country, which they served miserably by recommending someone so unsuited to the job. Tell him to leave. Tell him in government the honorable thing is to spare the president the need to fire you. Tell him it’s a Friday, the traditional day for dumping bad news, so he should go today.