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Not very diplomatic: Trump slams Tillerson as 'dumb as a rock', 'lazy as hell,' lacks 'mental capacity'

In rare public remarks, the fired former secretary of state also said the president "doesn't like to read, doesn't read briefing reports."
Image: Rex Tillerson holds a press conference in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 12, 2018.
Rex Tillerson at a news conference in Abuja, Nigeria, on March 12, 2018.Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP - Getty Images file

President Donald Trump launched into a no-holds-barred attack on his former secretary of state on Friday hours after Rex Tillerson gave his own blistering assessment of his time as the president's chief diplomat.

"Rex Tillerson didn't have the mental capacity needed," Trump tweeted. "He was dumb as a rock and I couldn't get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell."

Trump's assault on his former Cabinet member came after Tillerson told CBS News' Bob Schieffer at an event in Houston on Thursday night that he didn't meet Trump until the day he was asked to be secretary of state, and described how the pair were quickly at loggerheads once they began working together.

"So often, the president would say, 'Here's what I want to do and here's how I want to do it,' and I would have to say to him: 'Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can't do it that way. It violates the law,'" Tillerson said.

"I'd say: 'Here's what we can do. We can go back to Congress and get this law changed. And if that's what you want to do, there's nothing wrong with that,'" Tillerson added. "I told him, 'I'm ready to go up there and fight the fight, if that's what you want to do.'"

Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, was fired as the country's top diplomat by Trump in a tweet in March. He was replaced with then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson's firing came months after NBC News reported that he called the president a "moron," which the oil executive publicly denied.

Tillerson's remarks Thursday were his first public comments since giving a commencement address in May at the Virginia Military Institute in which he deplored the nation's "growing crisis in ethics and integrity" and leaders who "conceal the truth."

He also told Schieffer that Trump acts on instinct and did not like to read intelligence briefings, which was challenging for him coming from corporate America.

"He acts on his instincts, in some respects, that looks like impulsiveness, but it's not his intent to act on impulse. I think he really is trying to act on his instincts," Tillerson said.

"It was challenging for me, coming from the disciplined, highly process-oriented Exxon Mobil Corporation, to go to work for a man who is pretty undisciplined, doesn't like to read, doesn't read briefing reports, doesn't like to get into the details of a lot of things, but rather just kind of says, 'Look, this is what I believe, and you can try to convince me otherwise, but most of the time you're not going to do that.'"