Embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been the subject of the Washington D.C. rumor mill almost since the first day he accepted the nomination to the highest foreign diplomacy position in the president’s cabinet. In July, we had speculated that he was ready to call it quits with the whole Rexit gambit. More recently, he has been the subject of rumors that he called Trump a “f*cking moron” and was ready to resign in frustration with Trump’s ongoing measuring contest with Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Tillerson held a hurry-up press conference this past Wednesday to counter the rumors of his pending resignation. He claimed that at no point has he considered resigning. He was not so quick to deny that he called Trump a “f*cking moron” though. Instead, he opted to use some fancy wordplay to avoid answering the question directly, saying instead:
‘The places I come from, we don’t deal with that kind of petty nonsense. I’m just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration.’
It seems like Tillerson might be taking lessons from Trump on deflection.
Most recently, it has come to light that Trump once vented to Tillerson that it was unfair that businesses couldn’t bribe foreign officials. From Business Insider:
‘President Donald Trump told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that American businesses were being unfairly penalized by federal laws prohibiting the bribing of foreign officials.’
The information was first brought up in a profile piece done by the New Yorker, with an in-depth interview of Tillerson. The interview covered Tillerson’s entire career, from his rise at Exxon to dealings by him while he was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Back in the day, bribes to get things done were pretty commonplace.
Tillerson reportedly told Trump:
‘America didn’t need to pay bribes — that we could bring the world up to our own standards.’
In explaining, Tillerson used an anecdote from a deal he had as Exxon Mobil CEO, as related in The New Yorker:
‘ … when he met with a senior Yemeni official to discuss a deal. During the meeting, Yemen’s oil minister reportedly handed him a business card, with the account number to a Swiss bank account written on the back.
“5 million dollars,” the Yemeni official reportedly told him.
“I don’t do that. Exxon doesn’t do that.”
Tillerson told the Yemenis that they’d have to play the deal by the book if they wanted Exxon’s business. A month later, they acquiesced.’
Abolishing federal laws barring foreign bribes has been something of a pet issue for Trump, whose family real estate company has been involved in deals around the globe. It is easy to understand why being able to bribe foreign officials would be seen as a good thing from Trump’s vantage point.
Time will tell if Trump can get everything de-regulated so that it will be legal once again for corporations to start bribing foreign officials. We’ll be seeing Trump Towers popping up everywhere; The problem will be if Trump is still the president at that point — will they be Trump dollars being used for bribes or our tax dollars?
Watch Tillerson’s press conference where he doesn’t deny calling Trump a moron: