Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said President Donald Trump "speaks for himself" when asked about the president's "values" Sunday.
"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace cited a recent United Nations committee on eliminating racial discrimination, which slammed the Trump administration without naming it for failing to unequivocally denounce "racist violent events and demonstrations."
Trump was criticized in the aftermath of the Charlottesville violence for saying there were "fine people" on both sides, as well as saying both sides carried blame for the bloodshed there. He defended himself during a raucous rally Tuesday in Phoenix, saying it was actually "fake news" that was giving a platform to white supremacist groups.
"Does that make it harder for you to push American values around the world, when some foreign leaders question the president's values?" Wallace asked.
"Chris, we express America's values from the State Department," Tillerson said. "We represent the American people. We represent America's values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to equal treatment of people the world over, and that message has never changed."
"And when the president gets into the kind of controversy he does, and the U.N. committee respond the way it does, it seems to say they begin to doubt whether we're living those values," Wallace said.
"I don't believe anyone doubts the American people's values, or the commitment of the American government or the government's agencies to advancing those values and defending those values," Tillerson said.
"And the president's values?" Wallace asked.
"The president speaks for himself, Chris," Tillerson said.
"Are you separating yourself from that, sir?" Wallace asked.
"I've made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week," Tillerson said, referring to remarks where he condemned bigotry and hatred.
Tillerson's response drew attention online for not saying clearly that Trump represented American values.
Rex Tillerson, asked by Chris Wallace if the President's speaks for American values on race, "The President speaks for himself." Whoa.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) August 27, 2017
Pretty big moment on @FoxNewsSunday. Wallace asked Tillerson if Trump represents U.S. values. Tillerson: "The president speaks for himself"
— Dave Lawler (@DavidLawler10) August 27, 2017
"The President speaks for himself." ~ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on whether Trump represents American values to world. @FoxNewsSunday
— Shannon Fisher (@MsShannonFisher) August 27, 2017