NBC: Mattis, Pence And Kelly Talked Tillerson Out Of Resigning This Summer

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson answers a question from the media on North Korea, while meeting with the Holy See Secretary for Relations with States Paul Gallagher, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was so frustrated with President Donald Trump at one point this summer that he almost resigned, according to a new report from NBC News.

Amid growing frustrations with Trump’s policies and clashes with White House staff over staffing his department, Tillerson reportedly became so frustrated with Trump after his political speech at a Boys Scouts rally that he threatened not to return to the White House. The Secretary of state wasn’t upset about the speech, but other mounting tensions, according to NBC.

Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis had to counsel Tillerson, who was out of town for his son’s wedding, into returning to Washington, NBC reported.

“They did beg him to stay. They just wanted stability,” according to one of a dozen current and former senior administration officials who spoke to NBC.

Not long after returning to Washington, Tillerson called Trump a “moron” on July 20 at a meeting with the Pentagon, Trump’s national security team and other members of the administration, three officials told NBC.

Pence has had a few one-on-one discussions with Tillerson since then, talking to him about ways to ease tensions with Trump and being respectful of the President in public, a courtesy the President hasn’t returned.

Over the weekend, Trump openly disputed Tillerson and his remarks to reporters that the U.S. has a direct line of communication with North Korea. Trump tweeted that Tillerson is “wasting his time trying to negotiate” with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.

Read NBC’s full report here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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