Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday again refused to deny that he called President Donald Trump a moron after a meeting earlier this year.
Asked in an interview on CNN about his comments, which have been independently reported by multiple media outlets, Tillerson said he was “not going to dignify that question.”
“I am not going to deal with that petty stuff,” Tillerson 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.”
Host Jake Tapper continued to press Tillerson.
“When you don’t answer the question, it makes people think you probably did say it,” Tapper said. “But either way, whatever happened, it is serious. So can you please clear it up?”
“As I said Jake, I’m not playing,” Tillerson responded.
The CNN host pointed out that Tillerson still hadn’t answered the question.
“I’m willing to move on, but I want to be clear: You still haven’t denied that you called him a moron,” Tapper said. “And you know, a lot of people are going to watch this and think ‘He probably said it.'”
“I’m not dignifying the question with an answer, Jake, and I’m a little surprised you want to spend so much time on it when there are so many important issues around the world to deal with.”
The secretary of state previously did not answer whether he called Trump a moron.
- Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images
In a press conference earlier this month, Tillerson dismissed some specific claims from an NBC News report that Vice President Mike Pence talked the secretary of state out of resigning.
“The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state because I have never considered leaving this post,” Tillerson said. “There’s never been a consideration in my mind to leave.”
But he did not specifically deny that he called Trump a moron, leading State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert to clarify Tillerson’s remarks later the same day.
“The secretary does not use that type of language,” Nauert said. “The secretary did not use that type of language to speak about the president of the United States. He does not use that type of language to talk about anyone.”
Tillerson was on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday as part of a push to support Trump’s refusal this week to certify the multinational Iran nuclear deal.
Watch the clip via CNN:
.@jaketapper: Did you call Trump a moron?
— CNN (@CNN) October 15, 2017