Saturday, July 15, 2023

the last book I ever read (The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021, excerpt eleven)

from The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021 by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser:

Kelly was also left trying to manage the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the president and his secretary of state. While Trump had not heard Rex Tillerson’s “fucking moron” comment after the disastrous meeting in the Pentagon Tank, neither man did much to hide growing contempt for the other. By fall, they were barely on speaking terms. While Trump was threatening North Korea’s “Rocket Man,” Tillerson was trying to talk with Kim Jong-un. He had been working back channels to set up a meeting and was already on the way there when, during a stop in China, his legs were cut out from under him via Twitter. “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump wrote. “Save your energy Rex,” he added, “we’ll do what has to be done!” As soon as the tweet appeared, North Korea canceled the meeting. Tillerson was beside himself. Rarely if ever had a commander in chief so undermined his secretary of state on a diplomatic mission.

Days later, NBC News reported Tillerson’s “moron” quote—and The New Yorker later correctly added the expletive. Trump fired back publicly, suggesting that Tillerson was the moron. “I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests,” Trump said. “And I can tell you who is going to win.” Not even a year into his tenure, this was what it had come to: an insecure president challenging his secretary of state to an intelligence test to prove that he was not an idiot.

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