Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday seemed to dismiss the credibility of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace pointed out that a United Nations committee criticised Trump’s apparent defence of some people at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month.
Though Tillerson denied that Trump’s rhetoric made it difficult to defend American diplomacy abroad, he refused to deny that he was attempting to distance himself and the state department from Trump’s comments.
“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,” Tillerson said.
“And the president’s values?” Wallace asked.
“The president speaks for himself, Chris,” Tillerson replied.
Tension between Trump and his own secretary of state have increased in recent months, as the two found themselves at odds over leadership styles, staffing decisions, and policies toward the Middle East.
Tillerson is rumoured to be considering an early exit from the administration, though the state department has denied reports of his potential departure.
The secretary of state has reportedly found that the president’s tweets undermine US foreign policy objectives, and has chafed when asked about the effect of Trump’s tweets on conducting diplomacy.
“I’m not involved in how the president constructs his tweets, when he tweets, why he tweets, what he tweets,” Tillerson said during a trip to Australia and New Zealand.
When Wallace asked if Tillerson was distancing himself from Trump’s comments on Charlottesville, Tillerson said he shared his opinion in a State Department speech last week.
“We all know hate is not an American value. Nowhere is it an American value,” Tillerson said in the speech on August 18.
“We do not honour, nor do we promote or accept hate speech in any form,” he added. “And those who embrace it poison our public discourse and they damage the very country that they claim to love. So we condemn racism, bigotry in all its forms. Racism is evil; it is antithetical to America’s values. It’s antithetical to the American idea.”
Watch the clip via Fox News:
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