- Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images
NBC News had reported that Tillerson disparaged the president after a meeting on Afghanistan in which Trump compared “the decision-making process on troop levels to the renovation of a high-end New York restaurant.” The news outlet also reported that Tillerson had considered resigning.
As Business Insider’s Joe Perticone noticed, Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino sent an identical tweet at the same moment, suggesting that Trump himself might not have written the tweet.
Tillerson addressed the story on Wednesday in a public address, saying he was committed to the president and to his role as secretary of state and trying to dispel the notion that he wanted to leave the post. He also denied that Vice President Mike Pence intervened to persuade him to stay in the job.
“I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,” Tillerson said when asked about NBC News’ reporting that claimed he called Trump a “moron.”
Following Tillerson’s comments, Trump tweeted that his secretary of state “totally refuted” the story and called on NBC News to apologize “to AMERICA!”
“The @NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec. Tillerson and @VP Pence,” Trump tweeted. “It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!”
Reached by Business Insider, an NBC News spokeswoman said, “We stand by our reporting.”
The spokeswoman pointed to comments NBC News reporter Carol Lee said on MSNBC.
“We stand by it,” Lee said. “We’ve extensively reported on this. We talked to a dozen people for this story.”