Donald Trump attacked his former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on Thursday, calling the oil executive “dumb as a rock.” Tillerson appeared before Congressional committee on Tuesday where he told the panel that Russian President Vladimir Putin was better prepared than Trump for a meeting that took place in Hamburg, Germany.
As The Washington Post reported, Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Trump was at a disadvantage in negotiations with Putin during a key meeting in Germany because Putin had come to the event well-prepared, whereas Trump did not.
One committee aid said that much of the seven-hour meeting between Tillerson and the committee was spent discussing geopolitical issues like the U.S. and Russia’s relationship.
“We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted,” they said. “There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing.”
Trump fought back against Tillerson’s account with a tweet on Thursday, calling Tillerson the one who was unprepared to be Secretary of State.
“Rex Tillerson, a man who is ‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany,” Trump wrote. “I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”
Trump furiously hurls insults at Rex Tillerson after he reveals Putin ran circles around him https://t.co/8OILYbBjbd
— Raw Story (@RawStory) May 23, 2019
Reporters and social media users pointed out that Trump bore the responsibility for hiring someone who believed to be “ill-prepared” for the job, and, according to The Hill, when White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the issue on CNN, she avoided answering the question.
It’s not the first time that Trump and Tillerson have exchanged barbs. Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron” while he served as Secretary of State. Trump eventually fired Tillerson using Twitter after their relationship deteriorated. Tillerson has since said that Trump would suggest that he do things that would have violated the law and that the two didn’t share common values.
One Russia scholar said that a meeting in which Trump, who has openly bragged that he doesn’t feel the need to prepare for meetings, was less prepared than Putin would be an ideal scenario for the Russian president, who is known for his experience and canny political maneuvering.
“The Hamburg meeting sounds like it was one of Putin’s wildest dreams: a freewheeling backroom-style conversation with a U.S. president,” said Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar Andrew Weiss.