President Donald Trump on Friday said Rex Tillerson is "dumb as a rock" and "lazy as hell" after the former secretary of state made unflattering comments about Trump.
Tillerson spoke publicly for the first time this week about his experience as Trump’s first head of the State Department, and he described receiving instructions that were not legally possible. That interview with CBS News journalist Bob Schieffer made headlines for his comment that some of Trump’s ideas "violate[d] the law," but Trump fired back Friday afternoon in a tweet praising Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"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!" Trump wrote.
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
The former Exxon boss’s words at the MD Anderson Cancer Center fundraiser were reported by the Houston Chronicle and picked up by national outlets. He described conversations where he had to tell Trump he couldn’t carry out certain tasks.
"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.
He said those conversations frustrated the president, but he did not say Trump demanded that he break the law. Tillerson said he had to explain to Trump how Congress writes and amends the law.
"I'd say, ‘here's what we can do,’" Tillerson said. "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. I told him I'm ready to go up there and fight the fight, if that's what you want to do."
Tillerson’s tenure did not lead to any major achievements by the State Department, and some said he seemed to be restructuring the department with the goal of "downsizing."