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Tillerson says he's 'never questioned' Trump's mental fitness

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has never questioned President Donald Trump's "mental fitness" and ...

Posted: Jan 6, 2018 10:52 AM
Updated: Jan 6, 2018 10:52 AM

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has never questioned President Donald Trump's "mental fitness" and intends to remain at his post for the entire year, the top US diplomat told CNN in an exclusive interview.

Tillerson was responding to a question about Michael Wolff's explosive book, "Fire and Fury," a detailed look at the first year of the Trump presidency that is raising new questions about the President's temperament.

The secretary of state hasn't doubted Trump's mental fitness

Tillerson spoke to CNN in an exclusive interview

Tillerson said he will stay for 2018 after speculation he would be leaving at the end of last year

"I've never questioned his mental fitness," Tillerson told CNN's Elise Labott. "I have no reason to question his mental fitness."

Tillerson spoke with CNN in a wide-ranging interview where he addressed the threat of North Korea's nuclear program, tensions with Russia and Iran, and his famously tense relationship with the commander in chief. Tillerson had reportedly dismissed Trump in the past as a "moron," while the President publicly hinted that he would win an IQ contest against his top diplomat.

Learning to deal with the President

In his conversation with Labott, Tillerson said that his relationship with Trump is evolving, and one that he's been learning to navigate during his first year on the job.

"My relationship with him ... is a developing one," Tillerson said, adding that he hadn't met Trump when he was asked to lead the State Department. "So, we don't have a lot of history in past, so part of this is us knowing -- coming to learn and understand one another," he said.

While Trump repeatedly seemed to undermine Tillerson's diplomatic efforts in tweets, and White House sources regularly leaked stories damaging to the former ExxonMobil CEO, Tillerson said he "learned over the past year better how to deal with the president."

"In terms of what I would do different, I'm going to build on my ability to communicate with the President better," Tillerson told Labott. "I had to learn is what is effective with this President. He is not a typical of Presidents of the past. I think that's well recognized. That's also the why the American people chose him."

And despite reports that he would soon leave the administration -- either with the help of a hefty push from Trump or under his own steam -- Tillerson said he wasn't going anywhere.

"I think we're going to have a very productive 2018," Tillerson said. "The State Department gets stronger every day, understand what we're trying to do. And I look forward to having a very, very successful 2018."

Pressed on whether he'll be around to enjoy that success, Tillerson said, "I intend to be here for the whole year."

Tillerson also pushed back against characterizations in the Wolff book that Trump lacks the attention span and focus to get through meetings with foreign leaders, sometimes leaving them early.

"I have never seen the president leave a meeting with a foreign leader," Tillerson said, adding that "among all the Cabinet secretaries, I probably have spent more time with the President than perhaps Secretary (of) Defense (James) Mattis, who spends a lot of time with him as well."

RELATED: UN Security Council to meet over Iran protests

And in policy deliberations on tough issues ranging from North Korea to Afghanistan to South Asia policy in Pakistan to the ISIS campaign, the President "has been very deliberative, he has listened to the arguments, he argues back as he should ... and in the end, he makes a decision which we then implement," Tillerson said. "I would tell you on all of the major policy areas, the President has made the right decision on every one of those."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 110592

Reported Deaths: 3171
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7731171
DeSoto655177
Harrison478481
Jackson429178
Rankin380086
Madison371092
Lee339279
Forrest292777
Jones281682
Washington250697
Lafayette241342
Lauderdale2329130
Lamar212038
Bolivar197775
Oktibbeha194154
Neshoba1795111
Lowndes173662
Panola164736
Leflore158786
Sunflower156749
Warren151854
Monroe143672
Pontotoc143019
Pike135555
Lincoln133954
Copiah133336
Marshall130026
Coahoma122836
Scott122729
Grenada119637
Simpson117648
Yazoo116933
Union113825
Holmes113060
Tate112339
Leake111839
Itawamba108724
Pearl River107456
Adams104042
Prentiss100919
Wayne97921
Alcorn94412
George93217
Marion92642
Covington90825
Tippah84820
Newton84227
Chickasaw81724
Tallahatchie81725
Winston81421
Tishomingo78640
Hancock76527
Attala76325
Clarke70948
Clay66621
Jasper66016
Walthall63427
Calhoun60912
Noxubee59516
Smith57716
Claiborne53016
Montgomery52723
Tunica51817
Lawrence48914
Yalobusha47914
Perry47522
Carroll45812
Greene44717
Stone44614
Amite41513
Quitman4096
Humphreys39916
Jefferson Davis39311
Webster36313
Wilkinson32920
Kemper31615
Benton3004
Sharkey27714
Jefferson26210
Franklin2283
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 152272

Reported Deaths: 2621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22300372
Mobile14273314
Tuscaloosa9886132
Montgomery9615196
Madison895192
Shelby700260
Lee643066
Baldwin636967
Marshall425348
Calhoun408459
Etowah399149
Morgan393232
Houston362332
DeKalb313326
Elmore308152
St. Clair276742
Limestone268327
Walker264192
Talladega253634
Cullman223923
Lauderdale204340
Autauga198928
Franklin198131
Jackson197914
Russell18993
Colbert188927
Dallas184527
Blount182723
Chilton178731
Escambia170328
Covington164429
Coffee16299
Dale161551
Pike130112
Tallapoosa126986
Chambers126643
Clarke126116
Marion103929
Butler99640
Barbour9819
Marengo96421
Winston88613
Geneva8297
Pickens79317
Randolph79314
Lawrence78830
Bibb78513
Hale73729
Cherokee71414
Clay70312
Lowndes69827
Bullock63417
Henry6286
Monroe6259
Washington62012
Crenshaw58830
Perry5796
Conecuh55413
Wilcox55412
Fayette54012
Macon52819
Cleburne5207
Sumter46421
Lamar4555
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
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