WEATHER AUTHORITY : Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Severe Thunderstorm Warning View Alerts

Tillerson breaks his silence on Trump

Since being fired by President Donald Trump as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson has kept a very low profile. But on Thursday night in Houston, Tillerson broke that silence in a big way.

Posted: Dec 8, 2018 12:40 PM
Updated: Dec 8, 2018 12:57 PM

Since being fired by President Donald Trump as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson has kept a very low profile. But on Thursday night in Houston, Tillerson broke that silence in a big way.

Here's how he described the "why" behind the breakdown of his relationship with the President, according to the Houston Chronicle:

"So often, the President would say here's what I want to do and here's how I want to do it and I would have to say to him, Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can't do it that way. It violates the law."

Um, what???

The President of the United States would tell the secretary of state how he wanted things done and the secretary of state would have to tell him it couldn't be done the way he wanted because that was illegal?

This is all fine!

What's scary about Tillerson's admission? A few things.

1) Trump either doesn't know the law or doesn't care about the law

2) This isn't the first time we've heard of this sort of I-am-the-law, Judge Dredd-like behavior from the President.

On that second point, remember that former FBI director James Comey has testified -- under oath -- that Trump, in a one-on-one meeting, asked him to put aside the Justice Department investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The President publicly pressured then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take up an investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server. (Clinton was not charged in a previous FBI investigation.)

Time and time again -- particularly in his interactions with the Justice Department -- Trump has shown that he has zero understanding of the limits of his job.

Tillerson described Trump as "a man who's undisciplined, doesn't like to read, doesn't read briefing reports, doesn't like to get into the details of a lot of things but rather says 'this is what I believe.'"

That approach is broadly in keeping with Trump's experience in the private sector. In business, he largely did what he wanted -- rules (and consequences) be damned. If things went bad, the penalty, usually, was bankruptcy -- and Trump believed he could just deal and talk his way out of that sort of thing.

Trump has never understood the distinctions between being the head (figurehead, some would say) of a company and being the President of the United States. In his dealings with Sessions -- and Tillerson -- Trump's assumption is that they will do whatever he tells them to do because, well, he's the boss.

The idea that Tillerson, Sessions and the rest of the administration ultimately serve a) the people of the country and b) the rule of law is seemingly lost on Trump.

Need more evidence? Trump never forgave Sessions for recusing himself from the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Why? "Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the President," Trump told The New York Times in July 2017. "It's extremely unfair -- and that's a mild word -- to the President."

That Sessions recused himself to prevent any perception of bias in the investigation -- you know, for the good of the country and all that -- was totally lost on Trump. His only reaction to the situation was: This is bad for me, and so Sessions shouldn't have done it.

Which, really, says it all.

Trump's total ignorance of the law -- whether willful or just from sheer obtuseness -- is, at this point, a defining characteristic of his presidency. He simply doesn't get that there are limits on his power, limits put in place to preserve the office of the presidency -- and the broader institutions of our democracy.

The Point: We have a President who, according to his one-time FBI director and his first secretary of state, repeatedly proposed ideas that were in violation of established laws. Sit with that for a minute.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds107426
Madison76728
Lauderdale75968
Neshoba72844
Jones70133
Scott66312
Forrest59539
DeSoto57510
Rankin4569
Leake45212
Holmes44330
Copiah3294
Jackson31415
Attala31118
Yazoo2964
Newton2884
Lincoln28031
Leflore27736
Oktibbeha27314
Harrison2697
Monroe26925
Wayne2623
Lamar2505
Lowndes2479
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20316
Washington1987
Warren19610
Lee1948
Noxubee1936
Covington1792
Bolivar16911
Jasper1674
Clarke15619
Smith15511
Kemper15511
Lafayette1544
Chickasaw14014
Coahoma1314
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1155
Lawrence1071
Grenada1074
Simpson1040
Yalobusha1046
Sunflower923
Tate911
Hancock9012
Union897
Itawamba897
Marshall873
Wilkinson859
Panola843
Montgomery841
Webster844
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun674
Amite661
Walthall640
Humphreys637
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Perry513
Choctaw502
Pontotoc473
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Greene331
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie301
George292
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19073

Reported Deaths: 672
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2321118
Jefferson1901104
Montgomery185843
Tuscaloosa83616
Marshall7089
Franklin5858
Lee56234
Shelby52819
Tallapoosa43466
Butler42118
Walker3862
Elmore3749
Chambers36026
Madison3534
Unassigned3062
Morgan3021
Baldwin2939
Dallas2923
Lowndes26512
Etowah26312
DeKalb2573
Autauga2415
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2176
Pike2120
Colbert1902
Hale1859
Russell1810
Barbour1771
Marengo1756
Lauderdale1722
Calhoun1673
Wilcox1577
Choctaw15310
Cullman1521
Clarke1492
St. Clair1351
Randolph1287
Dale1240
Marion12411
Pickens1205
Talladega1195
Limestone1080
Chilton1071
Greene954
Macon934
Winston910
Jackson833
Covington821
Henry822
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington736
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe462
Geneva440
Perry430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
Broken Clouds
92° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 102°
Columbus
Few Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 100°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 79°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 95°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather