Amid crises, tensions between Pres. Trump and Tillerson persist


Per Corker's fears, the president has also appeared to contradict his Secretary of State on social media, tweeting that Tillerson shouldn't bother negotiating with North Korea.

At the beginning of the month Trump took to Twitter, saying that Tillerson was wasting his time trying to negotiate with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, whom Trump referred to as "Little Rocket Man".

Asked if Trump's tweets undermined his diplomatic efforts, Tillerson said connections between USA and Chinese leaders were close and that the Chinese "are not confused in any way" about US policy toward North Korea.

"The President has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically", Tillerson said. Although the president's tweets "raise tension in the region" and are "irresponsible", Corker is most concerned about what he characterized as the "castration" of Tillerson. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, publicly rebuked the president for "castrating" his the secretary of state and undermining his diplomatic efforts.

The secretary of state accused CNN moderator Jake Tapper of trying "make a game" out of pressing him on the "moron" comment.

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And then he danced around it: "I'm not dignifying the question with an answer, Jake".

Despite Tillerson's attempts to show he's in lockstep with the president, the NBC News report of his "moron" comment infuriated Trump, who privately bashed his secretary of state to associates and publicly challenged Tillerson to an IQ test. "I'm just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration".

When asked at a State Department news conference earlier this month whether he'd ever called Trump a "moron", Tillerson did not respond directly. Yet when Trump publicly says the man in charge of representing his administration overseas "is wasting his time" on diplomacy everyone starts to doubt him.

In Sunday's interview, Tillerson would not deny using the insult about the president. Trump himself has been irked by Tillerson's advocacy of staying in both the Paris climate deal and the Iran nuclear pact, and has complained to associates that he does not like how Tillerson candidly voices his disapproval to the president in meetings, according to White House officials and outside advisers. A State Department spokeswoman later denied that Tillerson said it. "I'm not here to beat up on Bob (Corker)".