Secretary of State Rex Tillerson jokingly pushed back on Sunday against a suggestion from a top senator that President Trump is trying to “publicly castrate” him, saying in an interview: “I checked. I’m fully intact.”
Tillerson was responding to Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-TN) criticisms of the president for his tweets in recent weeks that have appeared to undermine the work of Tillerson in containing the threat from North Korea. Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has sided with Tillerson during the public spats with Trump, made the remark during an interview with The Washington Post.
“I think this is an unconventional president. He uses unconventional communication tools. He used unconventional techniques to motivate change,” Tillerson said on CNN’s State of the Union. “This is not a place that likes to change. It actually enjoys the status quo.”
Tillerson went on to call Trump “the most unique president we’ve certainly ever seen in modern history,” and said he is “fully committed” to the Trump administration. Asked specifically about Corker’s comment, Tillerson responded with a laugh: “I checked. I’m fully intact.”
Corker, who was once in the running to be Trump’s vice president or secretary of state, has turned sour on the president as of late after announcing he would not seek re-election to the Senate in 2018. In an interview with The New York Times last weekend, Corker said Trump’s actions threaten “World War III.” He told reporters earlier this month that Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “help separate the country from chaos,” and said Tillerson “ends up not being supported in the way I would hope a secretary of state would be supported.”
Those remarks likely set off the president’s Sunday morning tweet-storm a week ago in which he lashed out at Corker, saying in part that he would be “a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda.”
During his CNN interview, Tillerson continued to refrain from denying that he called Trump a “moron,” as was reported by NBC News.
“I’m not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff,” he said. “This is a town that seems to relish gossip, rumor, innuendo—and they feed on it. They feed on one another in a very destructive way.”