Trump declares man he appointed secretary of state 'totally ill prepared and ill equipped' for the job

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

President Trump on Thursday lashed out at Rex Tillerson after the former secretary of state reportedly told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin out-prepared Trump for their first meeting in Germany.

Trump responded by calling Tillerson incompetent.

“Rex Tillerson, a man who is ‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany,” he tweeted. “I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”

If Tillerson was “totally ill prepared and ill equipped” to be the nation’s top diplomat, Trump himself would be to blame: He appointed the former ExxonMobil CEO to be secretary of state shortly after his inauguration after interviewing multiple candidates, including now-Sen. Mitt Romney. Tillerson was confirmed by the Senate eight days later.

Rex Tillerson after being sworn in as secretary of state as President Trump looks on in the Oval Office on Feb. 1, 2017. (Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool via Bloomberg)

In December 2016, when Trump was considering Tillerson for the position, the then president-elect tweeted about him glowingly.

“Whether I choose him or not for ‘State,’” Trump wrote, “Rex Tillerson, the Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, is a world class player and dealmaker.”

Tillerson's 14-month tenure — ending when Trump fired him in March 2018 — was fraught. In October 2017, he issued a public statement complimenting the president after multiple reports said that he had privately called Trump “a moron.” Shortly after taking the job, Tillerson told an interviewer that he never wanted the job as secretary of state and didn’t seek the post.

“My wife told me I’m supposed to do this,” Tillerson said when asked why he had accepted the position as America’s top diplomat.

Trump also called Tillerson “dumb as a rock and lazy as hell” in a December tweet.

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