Outgoing GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee has defended Secretary of State Rex Tillerson amid reports that Tillerson has a sour relationship with President Donald Trump. Corker asserted that Tillerson and several other senior officials in the Trump administration were what kept the U.S. government from spiraling into chaos.
On Oct. 4, roughly 12 current and former Trump administration officials who requested anonymity disclosed that Tillerson was frustrated by Trump and had threatened to resign in July. The secretary of state allegedly told Pentagon staff that he thought the president was a "moron," NBC News reports.
Following the report, Tillerson held a hastily assembled press conference to assert that he had never considered resigning from the administration, although he did not directly refute reports that he had questioned Trump's intelligence.
"I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that," Tillerson said.
Corker, who recently announced that he would not seek re-election, told reporters on Capitol Hill that he believed Tillerson was invaluable to American stability, along with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
"I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos, and I support them very much," Corker said, according CNN.
Corker, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, added that he believed Tillerson had good reason to be frustrated with the Trump administration.
"I deal with people throughout the administration and [Tillerson], from my perspective, is in an incredibly frustrating place, where ... he ends up not being supported in the way I would hope a secretary of state would be supported, that's just my vantage point," Corker continued.
When asked if he believed that Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly essentially served as a check against the president, Corker said: "They're very valuable as it relates to our citizens feeling safe and secure. ... they work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth around the world are, you know, sound and coherent. There are other people within the administration, in my belief, that don't."
Corker has been among the more vocal critics of Trump in the GOP-majority Senate. On Aug. 17, the Tennessee senator blasted the president for his response to a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
"The president has not been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful," Corker told Nooga.com.