President Donald Trump praised Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for denying reports that claimed he called Trump a “moron” and considered resigning.
Speaking to reporters in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday, Trump said he was “honored” by Tillerson’s denial, and said he had “total confidence” in Tillerson, despite reports that the two had clashed.
“It was fake news, it was a totally phony story,” Trump said. “It was made up by NBC, they just made it up.”
In a press conference on Wednesday, Tillerson denied an NBC News report that Vice President Mike Pence talked the secretary of state out of resigning earlier this year.
“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.”
And after he appeared to dodge a question about whether he called Trump a “moron,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert clarified Tillerson’s remarks.
“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.”
In a statement to Business Insider after Tillerson’s press conference, an NBC News spokeswoman said that the news organization stood by its reporting.
And speaking on MSNBC, NBC’s Carol Lee said that NBC “extensively reported” the story, speaking with a dozen sources.
President Trump on Rex Tillerson: “I was very honored by his comments” and I have “total confidence” in him https://t.co/14tKYvtB5I
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 4, 2017