Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Donald Trump a “moron” amid a series of disputes in July that almost led to Tilleron’s resignation, according to three Administration officials.

“Senior administration officials” have spoken of Tillerson’s disenchantment, with Trump’s rambling, innuendo-filled, politicized speech to the Boy Scouts of America — an organization that the Secretary of State once led — fuelling the discontent.

After a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, Tillerson made his “moron” remark. The statement came a day after Trump suggested he might fire the top US commander in Afghanistan and comparing decision-making on troop levels to the renovation of a high-end New York restaurant.

In August, Trump was furious with Tillerson when the Secretary of State was reticent in defending Trump’s remarks on white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Asking about Trump’s repeated attempts to blame “many sides” and to justify the white supremacist marches, the Secretary of State said, “The President speaks for himself.”

In an unscheduled statement to reporters Wednesday morning, commenting on the story by NBC News, Tillerson said, “I have never considered leaving this post.”

However, while he praised Trump’s foreign policy agenda and said he was part of a team to “make America great again”, Tillerson did not deny calling Trump a “moron”: “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.”

Trump reacted with fury as he watched morning news shows:

He later swung directly at NBC and falsely represented Tillerson’s remarks:

NBC said it spoke with a “dozen current and former senior administration officials…as well as others who are close to the President” for its report.

Pence Prevented Tillerson Resignation

The officials said Vice President Mike Pence counseled Tillerson on how to ease tensions with Trump, as he and other top administration officials — including the new Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — urged the Secretary of State to remain in the job at least until the end of 2017.

Pence subsequently spoke with Tillerson about being respectful of Trump in meetings and in public, asking that any disagreements be sorted out privately, according to “a White House official” who said there had been progress.

But last weekend Trump publicly undercut Tillerson via Twitter, knocking back the Secretary of State’s revelation of back-channel contacts for a diplomatic approach to the crisis over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

See TrumpWatch, Day 255: Trump Rips Up Tillerson’s Diplomacy on North Korea

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