Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was one of Trump’s hand-picked cabinet members. Now, though, a comment he made while making the rounds on Sunday morning news shows seems to distance him from the President. Tillerson made a passionate defense of American values and concluded by saying “the president speaks for himself.”
The comments were made on “Fox News Sunday,” during a discussion of the government’s response to the Charlottesville riots. The President’s response to the death of a counter protestor wasn’t as definitive as many of the American public would have liked. Then, he went on to speak Tuesday in Arizona at a rally where he defended his won response, while conveniently leaving out parts of what he had originally tweeted.
As Politico reports, “the president’s response to the Charlottesville rally prompted a rebuke from the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which condemned what it called the ‘failure at the highest political level’ to ‘unequivocally reject and condemn’ the hate groups.”
Tillerson, Sunday, implied that the President’s words don’t reflect the feelings of America.
“We express America’s values from the State Department. We represent the American people, we represent America’s values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to equal treatment of people the world over and that message has never changed,” Tillerson said. “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.”
“And the president’s values?” Chris Wallace, the anchor, asked.
— Pat Ward (@WardDPatrick) August 27, 2017
“The president speaks for himself, Chris,” Tillerson responded.
The response seemed to surprise Wallace. “Are you separating yourself from that, sir?” he asked.
“I’ve spoken — I’ve made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week,” Tillerson concluded.
This is a bold break for Tillerson. Up until this point, the former oil executive has been more subdued in his responses and very closely aligned with the message emanating from the White House.
While he was on the subject, Tillerson discussed the resignation of Sebastian Gorka, who had been a key White House national security aide who focused on counter terrorism. When Gorka left his position Friday, he wrote a scathing letter to Trump which said “outside of yourself, the individuals who most embodied and represented the policies that will ‘Make America Great Again,’ have been internally countered, systematically removed, or undermined in recent months.”
When Wallace asked about Gorka’s views, Tillerson said they were “completely wrong.”