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Rex Tillerson warns of "crisis of ethics"

Tillerson at a podium
Tillerson delivers farewell remarks at the State Department. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rex Tillerson, the first Secretary of State for President Trump, didn't mention Trump by name while addressing graduating cadets at Virginia Military Institute yesterday, but he didn't have to. One big quote:

"If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both the public and private sector — and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years."
— Rex Tillerson
  • "If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom."
  • Tillerson added that "America's future [should] be fact-based — not based on wishful thinking, not hoped-for outcomes made in shallow promises."
  • “When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America.”

Flashback: Tillerson feuded with Trump during his short term leading the State Department and was abruptly ousted in favor of Mike Pompeo, whose foreign policy views align more closely with those of the president.