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

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 30,199,007 — Total deaths: 946,490— Total recoveries: 20,544, 967Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 6,675,593 — Total deaths: 197,644 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans wouldn't get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.
Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mike Bloomberg's anti-chaos theory

CNN's Anderson Cooper questions Joe Biden last night at a drive-in town hall in Moosic, Pa., outside Scranton. Photo: CNN

Mike Bloomberg's $100 million Florida blitz begins today and will continue "wall to wall" in all 10 TV markets through Election Day, advisers tell me.

Why it matters: Bloomberg thinks that Joe Biden putting away Florida is the most feasible way to head off the national chaos we could have if the outcome of Trump v. Biden remained uncertain long after Election Day.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.