WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied Wednesday that he had ever considered leaving the administration, batting down a report from NBC News that he was ready to quit this summer but was convinced to stay on by Vice President Mike Pence.
“The vice president has never needed to persuade me to remain as secretary of state, because I have never considered leaving this post,” Tillerson said in unscheduled remarks at the State Department.
NBC also reported that Tillerson referred to President Donald Trump as a “moron” following a meeting at the Pentagon in July.
When asked, Tillerson declined to flat-out deny making the remark.
“I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,” Tillerson said. “I’m not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration.”
Tillerson said he will continue to serve in his position “for as long as the president feels I can be useful to achieving his objectives.”
Following the statement, Trump tweeted that the story was now “totally refuted” by Tillerson and Pence, and that NBC should apologize to the country.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2017
When asked if Trump had asked the secretary to make the statement, Tillerson said he had not spoken to the president Wednesday morning.