White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested the press corps "get a sense of humor" after repeated questions Tuesday about President Donald Trump's suggestion that he had a higher IQ than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Trump told Forbes in an interview published Tuesday that he thought the recent report Tillerson once called him a moron was "fake news." However, if Tillerson did make that remark, Trump suggested they compare IQ tests and implied he would best his secretary of state in that department.
Sanders took a question about the story at the beginning of the briefing and said Trump was merely joking, and NBC reporter Kristen Welker later revisited the topic.
"How does the president expect the secretary of state to be effective when he's questioning his intelligence?" she asked.
"Again, he wasn't questioning the secretary of state's intelligence. He made a joke," Sanders said. "Maybe you guys should get a sense of humor and try it sometime, but he simply made a joke. He's been extremely clear time and time again, despite the fact that you guys want to continue to bring this up … He's got 100 percent confidence in the secretary of state."
Sanders said the media was focused on stories about "who likes who" while the White House was focused on advancing its agenda.
Whether Tillerson insulted Trump with the remark has been a topic of discussion in Washington since NBC News reported on the alleged comments last week. NBC also reported Tillerson came close to resigning from the State Department last summer, although Tillerson and other members of the Trump administration have denied this.