The NBC report also said that after the speech Tillerson called Trump a “moron.”
“The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state because I have never considered leaving this post,” said Tillerson.
When asked if the claim that he had almost resigned was the only thing he considered to be erroneous in the report, Tillerson said it was the most important part. When asked specifically if he had called the president a moron, Tillerson did not deny it, saying, “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.”
Last week, after Tillerson said in an interview that the U.S. had back-channel communications with North Korea, Trump tweeted that his “wonderful” secretary of state was wasting his time talking to Pyongyang.
“My wife told me I’m supposed to do this,” said the former ExxonMobil CEO when asked why he had accepted the position as America’s top diplomat.
Trump, who is flying to Las Vegas in the wake of the mass shooting there, spent the morning attacking NBC and “fake news” and demanding an apology.
Most of Tillerson’s remarks consisted of what he considered the foreign policy successes of the Trump administration and compliments of the president.
“He loves this country,” said Tillerson of Trump. “He puts Americans and America first. He’s smart, he demands results wherever he goes and he holds those around him accountable for whether they’ve done the job he’s asked them to do. Accountability is one of the bedrock values the president and I share.”
Tillerson also criticized the petty nature of Washington, which he said was very different from his experience in the private sector.
There are currently two executive branch departments without permanent heads following John Kelly’s move from Homeland Security chief to White House chief of staff in July and Tom Price’s recent resignation as Health and Human Services secretary.