The feud between Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson has now devolved to the point that Tillerson is leaking stories to the media that make him look like an upstanding guy, while making Trump look like a criminal. That’s right the President of the United States and the Secretary of State are really doing this to each other. It’s now, shockingly, the world we live in. What’s more shocking is the particular story that Tillerson has leaked about Trump.
Several paragraphs into a new article from the New Yorker, you’ll find this stunning sentence about a meeting between Trump and Tillerson that took place back in February: “[Trump] began fulminating about federal laws that prohibit American businesses from bribing officials overseas; the businesses, he said, were being unfairly penalized.” (link). This would have been one of the first conversations that the two men had after Tillerson was confirmed by the Senate, and Trump used that conversation to complain about bribery being illegal. Apparently in those exact words.
According to the story, Tillerson pushed back by exclaiming “I don’t do that!” and going on to explain that when he ran ExxonMobil, he was such an upstanding businessman that he would turn down foreign bribes and magically strike a deal on the up-and-up. The story is almost comically weighted in Tillerson’s favor, making it clear that he’s the one who leaked it to the media. Yet, considering what we know of Trump’s own history in the business world, it’s entirely believable.
The question now becomes what else Rex Tillerson (or his allies) might leak out in the coming days, either as a warning shot to Donald Trump so he won’t fire Tillerson, or as retribution after Tillerson is fired. If tales of bribery are just the warm-up, imagine what might leak about Trump next.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report