Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “didn’t want” the job, and took it at his wife’s urging.
Tillerson, who recently returned from a diplomatic trip to Asia accompanied by a press corps of one – the Independent Journal Review’s Erin McPike – told the publication in an interview published Tuesday that he was “stunned” to be offered the job.
“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” he said. “My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”
After a conversation with President Donald Trump that Tillerson described as “about the world,” the President offered him the position.
“I was supposed to retire in March, this month. I was going to go to the ranch to be with my grandkids,” he said, adding later: “My wife convinced me. She was right. I’m supposed to do this.”
Trump’s choice of Tillerson, formerly the CEO of ExxonMobil who had no experience in government or diplomacy, has continued to confound. After Trump announced Tillerson’s nomination, CNN reported that he had been recommended by variety of foreign policy heavyweights, including Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice, who had done business with ExxonMobil.
On his decision to limit the press corps, Tillerson remained unapologetic to IJR.
He had earlier told the publication he was “not a big media access person.” In the interview published Tuesday, he said that the Obama administration had made a “huge mistake” in being as public as it was. That “put them at a huge disadvantage,” he said.
And though Trump proposed massive cuts to the State Department’s budget in a draft budget document released last week, Tillerson told IJR he hadn’t yet discussed the ramifications of that proposal with the President.
“We haven’t gotten that far yet,” he said.