President Donald Trump, never known for taking criticism lying down, responded to unkind words from his former secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Friday by calling Tillerson “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.”
During a rare public appearance in Houston on Thursday evening, Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO, discussed his difficult tenure working for Trump. He called the president “undisciplined” and said the president “doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things.”
Tillerson also revealed he had never met Trump until the day he was asked to be secretary of state, and described how Trump would often request action he felt was illegal or otherwise ill-advised.
“So often, the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it,’ and I would have to say to him: ‘Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law,'” Tillerson said.
“I’d say: ‘Here’s what we can do. We can go back to Congress and get this law changed. And if that’s what you want to do, there’s nothing wrong with that,'” Tillerson said. “I told him, ‘I’m ready to go up there and fight the fight, if that’s what you want to do.'”
It was an extraordinary rebuke from a man Trump once said would be “a star!” at the State Department.
Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
And it was met with an even more biting response Friday from Trump, who lavished praise on Tillerson’s replacement while demeaning the man he chose as his first secretary of state but later fired.
“Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed,” Trump wrote.
“He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!”
Last year, Trump apparently had a higher opinion of Tillerson’s abilities, calling him “our wonderful secretary of state” and declaring that “we work well together.”
However, NBC News had reported that Tillerson had called the president a “moron” months before his firing, a report he publicly denied in a prepared speech.