Rex Tillerson

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.

Trump, the tormentor

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After 24 hours of brutal coverage of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' defense of scrapping funding for the Special Olympics, President Trump stepped in to claim he was saving a program his own budget had threatened.

Driving the news: "I heard about it this morning," Trump told reporters as he left the White House. "I have overridden my people. We're funding the Special Olympics." It was a bad look for DeVos, but standard operating procedure for Trump.