America’s top diplomat under President Donald Trump, former Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, grappled with crafting new foreign policy as the new White House occupant stuck to his election platform of “Make America Great Again.” (March 13)

As the ouster of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state dominates headlines, let’s look back at his tense public relationship with President Trump — namely, that time Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron.”

It all goes back to last summer, according to an NBC News report, when Tillerson openly called the president a “moron” after a July 20 Pentagon meeting with Cabinet officials and Trump’s own security team, the boiling point of tension that spilled over in following months.

In a statement, Tillerson denied the report’s claim that he considered resigning around that time, but did not deny calling Trump a moron. (A State Department spokeswoman later did.)

Days before NBC’s report broke in October, Trump publicly mocked Tillerson’s efforts to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over nuclear weapons, claiming the secretary was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”

While Trump called NBC’s report “fake news” and expressed “total confidence”  in Tillerson last fall, he later wondered about the report in an interview while slighting Tillerson.

“I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win,” Trump told Forbes.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later downplayed Trump’s comment as “a joke, nothing more than that.”

And now, Tillerson is out.

Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner

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