Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on...
JONATHAN ERNST

Trump's Sec of State reportedly called the president a 'moron'

— Updated

It's easy to understand why Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would feel frustrated. It wasn't long ago he was the CEO of ExxonMobil, palling around with Vladimir Putin, and answering to no one but his shareholders.

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Now, however, Tillerson is the chief diplomat in an administration led by a president who routinely humiliates him in public. The Secretary of State is now seen as Donald Trump's pitiful dog -- and not in a "man's best friend" sort of way.

Watching this unfold at a distance, it's hard not to wonder why Tillerson doesn't simply resign in disgust. According to a new report from NBC News, over the summer, it very nearly came to that.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to multiple senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time.

The tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said.

Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a "moron," after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump's national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.

We now know, of course, that Tillerson didn't quit -- Vice President Mike Pence, among others, intervened and persuaded him to stick around -- though Trump will no doubt hear about this NBC News report, and it's easy to imagine the relationship between the two men deteriorating further.

That said, I'd caution against feeling sorry for Tillerson. He may regret his decision to join Trump's cabinet, but the Secretary of State watched the same 2016 campaign that the rest of us saw, and he must have known what he was getting himself into.

Trump's glaring faults -- ignorance, dishonesty, narcissism, indifference towards expertise and accuracy, et al -- have been evident for quite some time. Tillerson nevertheless chose to join the president's team, putting his reputation on the line. That hasn't worked out well for him, but neither he nor anyone else should be surprised.