Tillerson Aide Says ‘I Spoke Out Of Line’ In NBC Story About Tillerson Discontent

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets 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

State Department communications adviser R.C. Hammond apologized Wednesday for comments attributed to him by name in an NBC News report. At the same time, his boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, refuted some portions of the article reporting on the top diplomat’s discontent in the Trump administration.

Hammond denied to NBC News, just as Tillerson did in a statement Wednesday, that Tillerson had considered resigning. Hammond also denied, though Tillerson did not, that the secretary of state had called Trump a “moron” in a July 20 Pentagon meeting “with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials,” according to three unnamed officials who spoke to the network.

Hammond’s mention in his tweets to the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, seemed to be in reference to the following passage in the NBC News article, referring to conversations between Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence:

Hammond said he knew of only one time when the two men discussed topics other than policy: A meeting where Pence asked Tillerson if he thought Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was helpful to the administration, or if he was worried about the role she was playing. He added that whenever the vice president gives advice on how processes could run more smoothly, the advice is a good thing.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on or clarify the tweets in an email to TPM.

Hammond is referred to extensively by name elsewhere in the article.

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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