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Trump fires back at Tillerson over Putin preparedness claims

Rex tillerson smirking
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump fired back at former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a Thursday tweet after reports that Tillerson disparaged the president's preparation for a 2017 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin:

"Rex Tillerson, a man who is 'dumb as a rock' and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany. I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!"

The backdrop: After a request from House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Tillerson told the committee in a closed hearing Wednesday that "a discrepancy in preparation ... created an unequal footing" for the meeting in Hamburg, per the Washington Post.

  • Tillerson and other aides were present for the meeting, unlike the sit-down between Trump and Putin last year in Helsinki.
  • The U.S. side apparently anticipated a short meeting with Putin, but it turned into a wide-ranging, two-hour conversation between the leaders.
  • Tillerson told the committee that he thought the U.S. could be doing more to counter Russia, a person who was in the room told the Post.

Worth noting: Tillerson did not explicitly bash Trump during the hearing, stating that they share a common goal "to secure and advance America’s place in the world and to promote and protect American values."

Go deeper: Trump mocks Tillerson, who accused him of wanting to break the law