Oct 4, 2017

NBC: Tillerson called Trump a "moron," almost resigned

Rex Tillerson is at the center of the Trump administration's latest round of palace intrigue. Photo: Cliff Owen / AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson almost resigned over the summer around the time of President Trump's controversial speech at the Boy Scouts' Jamboree, according to an NBC News report. Tillerson also reportedly called Trump a "f***ing moron" following a national security meeting at the Pentagon in July, as NBC News' Stephanie Ruhle told Hugh Hewitt. Tillerson's spokesman at the State Department flatly denied the report.

Why it matters: Tillerson reached that point after months of foreign policy disputes with Trump, specifically on Iran and Qatar. It reportedly took personal interventions from Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to get Tillerson to reconsider.

But there's again trouble in paradise: Trump used Twitter to very publicly undercut Tillerson's North Korea strategy over the weekend.

Worth noting: Tillerson's spokesman told NBC News that the only time Tillerson and Pence ever discussed something other than policy was a meeting where Pence asked Tillerson if he thought U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was helpful to the administration. Haley is widely viewed as coveting Tillerson's position, which she has flatly denied.

An important reaction: From Council on Foreign Relations President Richard A. Haass:

Go deeper: Axios' Jonathan Swan details how Tillerson has become isolated from nearly everyone.

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Trump flags travel adversaries for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump said Saturday night the CDC would issue a "strong" travel advisory" for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and that a "quarantine will not be necessary."

The big picture: With more than 121,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 6 mins ago - Health

Trump rules out quarantine in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut after pushback

President Trump on the White House grounds on Saturdya. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday night that he's decided not to introduce quarantine enforcement measures fo New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut, but a "strong" travel advisory will be issued for those states.

Why it matters: The president said hours earlier he was considering the move to combat the rise in novel coronavirus cases. But he received pushback, most notably from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who told CNN it would cause "chaos." "This would be a federal declaration of war on states," Cuomo added.

Go deeper: Updates on coronavirus in the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 660,706 — Total deaths: 30,652 — Total recoveries: 139,304.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 121,478 — Total deaths: 2,026 — Total recoveries: 1,072.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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