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Tillerson meets for seven hours with House Foreign Affairs Committee

Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., in March 2018. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson met with lawmakers for seven hours behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss his time in the Trump administration, a spokesman said.

Tillerson met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers and staffers from the House Foreign Affairs Committee after a request from Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.).

“The discussion . . . covered a wide array of topics related to foreign affairs, the operations of the nation’s foreign policymaking apparatus and his tenure as Secretary of State,” according to a statement from the spokesman for Tillerson.

An official familiar with the session said Tillerson met with members and staffers separately, and that the White House knew of the testimony in advance and did not move to block it. The White House had no comment.

Among the topics discussed were Tillerson’s relationships with other White House advisers, including President Trump and his family; Trump’s interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin; and how policy is made in the Middle East and North Korea. He expressed some frustrations with the president’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, the official said.

Tillerson appeared voluntarily, the representative said. Tillerson’s appearance for testimony on Capitol Hill was first reported by the Daily Beast.

The former ExxonMobil chief executive had an ignominious departure from the Trump administration after he was fired by tweet in March 2018. He and the president disagreed broadly on foreign policy and had a series of fights over personnel and policy, aides to both men said.

Trump has since had a better relationship with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The president has pushed for aides not to testify in front of oversight committees, calling them Democratic efforts to undermine his administration. Tillerson has largely stayed quiet since leaving office, making few public appearances and rarely giving interviews.

In one rare interview with CBS in December, Tillerson said Trump was undisciplined, did not read or care about facts, and routinely issued directives that were against the law. Trump responded in a tweet that Tillerson was “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.”