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: 98190

Reported Deaths: 2969
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7179161
DeSoto567863
Harrison391774
Jackson355370
Rankin334679
Madison333190
Lee280471
Forrest252476
Jones251580
Washington226379
Lafayette220840
Lauderdale2077126
Bolivar185770
Oktibbeha181152
Lamar174336
Lowndes159858
Neshoba1597104
Panola151231
Sunflower148546
Leflore142681
Warren141550
Pontotoc129316
Pike124953
Monroe124669
Copiah119933
Scott117727
Coahoma116730
Lincoln112353
Marshall111821
Holmes110060
Grenada109836
Yazoo106631
Simpson105047
Tate101238
Union100224
Leake96338
Adams94537
Wayne91221
Pearl River90953
Prentiss87918
Marion87136
Itawamba85021
Alcorn83211
Covington83023
George78413
Newton77824
Tallahatchie77724
Winston74619
Tishomingo70338
Chickasaw69224
Tippah68718
Attala67225
Clarke61048
Walthall60426
Clay59918
Hancock59522
Jasper58115
Noxubee55816
Smith54515
Calhoun52712
Tunica49915
Montgomery46920
Claiborne46516
Yalobusha44214
Lawrence43714
Perry42821
Greene38917
Quitman3875
Stone37913
Humphreys37715
Jefferson Davis34611
Amite34210
Webster33913
Carroll32312
Wilkinson30718
Kemper29115
Sharkey26614
Jefferson2429
Benton2333
Franklin1973
Choctaw1876
Issaquena1053
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 137564

Reported Deaths: 2399
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19938351
Mobile13507293
Montgomery8866185
Tuscaloosa8837118
Madison798179
Shelby607449
Lee597161
Baldwin560650
Marshall397543
Calhoun355644
Etowah354845
Morgan333428
Houston293921
Elmore271948
DeKalb244321
St. Clair235936
Walker235485
Talladega217830
Limestone214420
Cullman191920
Dallas179826
Franklin179130
Autauga178727
Russell17683
Lauderdale175133
Colbert167726
Blount162115
Escambia161624
Jackson159712
Chilton159530
Covington140727
Dale140344
Coffee13716
Pike121611
Chambers117542
Tallapoosa117185
Clarke110316
Marion97529
Butler91740
Barbour8867
Winston75013
Marengo72620
Pickens67014
Randolph66613
Lowndes65927
Bibb65810
Hale64928
Geneva6444
Lawrence63425
Cherokee61713
Bullock60714
Clay5918
Monroe5908
Washington56012
Crenshaw54332
Perry5426
Conecuh53911
Wilcox53211
Henry5105
Macon48318
Fayette4689
Sumter43719
Cleburne3945
Lamar3822
Choctaw35112
Greene30515
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 72°
Oxford
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 72°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather