WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump reacted to reports on Tuesday that his secretary of state had called him a moron, saying in an interview if Rex Tillerson did call him a moron, the two should “compare IQ tests”.

“And I can tell you who is going to win,” Trump said in the interview with Forbes magazine.

Trump’s tense relationship with Tillerson burst into public view last week. An NBC News story claimed Vice President Mike Pence had to talk the secretary of state out of resigning this summer, and that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron”.

Tillerson said he never considered resigning, though he didn’t directly address the reported insult.

 

His spokeswoman later said he never used such language.

State Department officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

President Trump has at times appeared to undercut Rex Tillerson’s message on some of America’s most sensitive national security challenges, including Iran and North Korea.

Tillerson also has publicly complained about the White House blocking him from making key appointments.

Still, last week Trump told reporters he had “total confidence” in his secretary of state.

In the Forbes interview, done on Friday, Trump responded to criticism that he had undermined his secretary of state through his often provocative tweets that have interfered directly with ongoing diplomatic efforts.

“I’m not undermining,” Trump told Forbes. “I think I’m actually strengthening authority.”

As for Rex Tillerson’s reported “moron” comment, the president said: “I think it’s fake news. But if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”

The president launched a series of tweets on a wide range of topics on Tuesday morning.

He said that reaching out to congressional Democrats for help in getting immigration legislation passed is difficult because “the Democrats don’t want secure borders”.

In his tweet, Trump charged that Democ­rats “don’t care about safety for USA”.

His Twitter post came only two days after Trump sent an immigration overhaul wish-list of legislative proposals to congressional leaders, including a requirement that Congress agree to a host of border security improvements and make significant changes to the green card programme.

Donald Trump had said on Sunday there needs to be security enhancements and the border wall that he’s demanded before he’d sign onto a bill restoring a programme that shields from deportation young people brought to the United States illegally when they were children.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2017

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