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Tillerson Unconcerned About Independence in Wake of Comey Firing

by Phil McCausland /  / Updated 
Image: Tillerson Speaks At State Dep't Foreign Affairs Day Memorial Plaque Ceremony
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks during the American Foreign Service Association Memorial Plaque ceremony on Foreign Affairs Day at the department headquarters in the Harry S. Truman building May 5, 2017 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in an interview to be broadcast on NBC’s "Meet the Press" Sunday that he is unconcerned about his independence in the wake of President Donald Trump firing FBI Director James Comey.

"I have a great relationship with the president," Tillerson told show host Chuck Todd. "I understand what his objectives are. When I'm not clear on what his objectives are, we talk about it."

"I am devoted to helping the president achieve his objectives, helping him be successful," Tillerson said. "And I understand I have to earn his confidence every day with how I go about those affairs and how I go about conducting the State Department's activities consistent with the direction he wants to take the country."

Trump fired Comey Tuesday in a move that sparked calls among some Democrats for a special prosecutor to be appointed in the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Contradicting explanations from the White House that the decision was based on recommendations from the Justice Department, Trump said in an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt this week that "regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey."

NBC reported this week that Trump requested a loyalty pledge from Comey at a January dinner, and Comey replied that he could not offer loyalty but he could pledge his honesty, according to people familiar with the dinner.

Tillerson said that debate over Comey’s firing doesn't affect him and that he understands the line between serving the president and serving the people.

"Well, I will never compromise my own values, Chuck," Tillerson said. "And so that's my only line. And my values are those of the country."

To watch Chuck Todd's exclusive interview with Rex Tillerson, tune in to "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

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