US President Donald Trump has challenged his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to “compare IQ tests” after former ExxonMobil chief called the President a “moron”.
The brawl started when an NBC story claimed Vice-President Mike Pence had to talk Tillerson out of resigning this summer and that the secretary of state had called Trump a “moron.”
Later, Trump told Forbes magazine: “I think it’s fake news. But if he (Tillerson) did (say) that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”
US president Donald Trump hasn’t always had the smoothest of relationships with members of his Cabinet. However, his reportedly shaky relationship with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and their fairly public sniping at each other, is perhaps the worst yet.
However, the White House was quick to give a different direction to the Trump-Tillerson row. It says President Donald Trump was joking when he appeared to question his secretary of state’s intelligence.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the president “never implied that the secretary of state was not incredibly intelligent.” She says: “He made a joke, no more than that.”
She also says the president has “100 percent confidence” in Tillerson. She said reporters “should get a sense of humor.”
But sources say a complete different picture. According to Bloomberg, quoting some White House officials, their relationship has deteriorated to the point of no return and that it is only a matter of time before Tillerson departs.
The Washington Post writes, Trump is irked by Tillerson’s arguments for a more traditional approach on policies, from Iran to climate change to North Korea and by Tillerson’s visible frustration when overruled.
Tillerson also has publicly complained about the White House blocking him from making key appointments.
After the Charlottesville violence, Tillerson had said Trump “speaks for himself”.
People close to Trump also told The Chicago Tribune that the president has grown increasingly dissatisfied with Tillerson and thinks he’s lacking in star power. He has also been labelled as a press-shy globalist who cannot understand the nationalist platform of Trump’s election campaign.
Another thorn in their relationship is Tillerson’s support for the Paris Climate Deal and Iran nuclear deal and differences over US policy of Afghanistan. Tillerson continues to advocate for the deal, much to the displeasure of Trump and others in the White House.
Last week The New York Times reported that Tillerson was astonished at how little Trump grasps the basics of foreign policy.
According to the newspaper, quoting sources close to the secretary of state, Trump has been irritated by Tillerson’s body language during meetings.
The Trump administration is acutely aware of the fact that it is losing its staff members steadily and therefore, a resignation from Tillerson would prove disastrous for the US administration.
Politico also reported that despite his problems with Tillerson, Trump isn’t planning to make any moves to get rid of him. An adviser told Politico that with a sharp drop in Trump’s approval rating, he is loath to get rid of anyone.
Trump’s always been the world’s leading gladiator when it comes to IQ smackdowns. In 2016, he challenged London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, to compare IQ tests after Khan dismissed Trump’s take on Islam as “ignorant.” Trump has also boasted that he has a higher IQ than George W. Bush, Barack Obama, George Will, Karl Rove and the entire staff of the Washington Post.