Aug 27, 2017

First Cohn, now Tillerson, turn on Trump

Asked by Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace about President Trump's values, Secretary of State Tillerson said, "the president speaks for himself." Wallace followed up by asking Tillerson if he was separating himself from Trump's values, and Tillerson indicated that he was: "I have made my own comments as to our values."

Why it matters: The Secretary of State is saying that after events like Charlottesville, the President of the United States is not speaking for America and channeling its values — he's speaking for himself. And Tillerson's comments follow strong words from Gary Cohn, Trump's economic adviser, who said he felt "enormous pressure" to resign over Trump's response to Charlottesville.

Cohn on Friday to the Financial Times:

  • "This administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities."
  • "I have come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain in my current position. As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post... But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks... Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK."

From Axios' Jonathan Swan: Trump soured on Rex a while ago, and he's got few if any friends inside the White House. This surely won't help.

Our thought bubble: Trump's administration has been portrayed as a battle between nationalists and globalists. The nationalists are out of favor now that John Kelly is running the show, with Steve Bannon resigning, Sebastian Gorka being forced out, and H.R. McMaster cleaning house on that National Security Council. But the globalists, like Tillerson and Cohn, are putting themselves at risk by publicly criticizing Trump — though speculation is growing that they may leave of their own volition.

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