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Trump calls Rex Tillerson 'dumb as a rock'

President Trump lashes out at his former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling him "dumb as a rock" in a tweet following an interview Tillerson did with CBS where he called Trump "undisciplined."

Posted: Dec 10, 2018 6:25 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2018 6:37 PM

Faced with new court filings by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating his ties to Russia and other matters, our Distractor-in-Chief began Friday with a burst a tweets and two big nominations. As President Donald Trump proposed William Barr for attorney general and Heather Nauert for ambassador to the United Nations, he seemed intent on capturing our attention. It didn't work.

The man who loves to control the news cycle was outflanked by revelations connected to two men who have, despite serving in the Trump administration, appeared to resist his corrupting influence.

First, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson told an interviewer that Trump had asked him to commit illegal acts, is undisciplined and "doesn't like to read, doesn't read briefing reports, doesn't like to get into the details of a lot of things." Next the press reported that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who is expected to quit any minute, has been questioned by the special counsel. These startling developments drew new attention to the odor of incompetence and corruption that has hung over Trump ever since he took office.

Tillerson and Kelly, and Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen represent diametrically opposed responses to the Mafia-style way of leading that the President seems to prefer.

Tillerson and Kelly signed on with Trump after sterling careers guided by higher values and did not succumb to demands for omerta-style loyalty. Cohen and Manafort, both now admitted criminals, had never distinguished themselves as honorable men and presumably found it easy to do the big boss's bidding.

Nothing in this comparison suggests that Kelly and Tillerson were goody-goody types. A former Marine Corps general, Kelly came to the White House with combat experience and the toughness to bring discipline to a President who is short on focus and self-control. Before being tapped by Trump, Tillerson was canny enough to rise to the top of ExxonMobil, where he even did business with the murderous Vladimir Putin because his company was active in Russia. (Putin gave Tillerson a friendship medal.) Now we learn that when he was at the State Department, Tillerson pushed back against Trump's attempt to corrupt him, refusing to act on orders he believed violated the law, according to his account to CBS reporter Bob Schieffer at a Houston event Thursday.

As pragmatic as Tillerson and Kelly may have been, they did not subscribe to Trump's do-anything-I-command ethos -- and that put them on the outs with their boss. Tillerson struggled to serve the country properly right up to the point when he was informed, while traveling for the President on a foreign mission, that he was no longer welcomed in the administration. As Kelly reportedly prepares to leave, he enjoys the same respect as a man committed to the office of the President even if the actual President has, according to reports, stopped speaking to him.

The fact is that in Trump circles, the relatively decent ones -- like the chief of staff, former secretary of state and outgoing United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley -- appear to have to struggle to remain. Indeed, ever the good soldier, Haley has refused to say anything negative about Trump, but it's noteworthy that she resigned soon after the delegates at the United Nations laughed out loud while her boss was addressing the General Assembly.

Trump's less noble allies, like Cohen and Manafort, show little of the strength of character found in Kelly, Tillerson and Haley. Instead of resisting the corruption that is so common to Trump's endeavors they tried to play the game.

In the decade-plus when he was Donald Trump's lawyer, Cohen advertised himself as Trump's "fixer" and a man who would "take a bullet" for the boss. This is the attitude of someone who is comfortable with mob-style corruption, and it is a sign of Cohen's weakness that he played his role so well that he committed crimes he has confessed to federal authorities. To his credit, Cohen is now cooperating with authorities and doesn't seem to be angling for a Presidential pardon.

Manafort's corruption is like Cohen's, but apparently of a higher order of magnitude. For years he proudly served in what some regarded as the "torturer's lobby" in Washington, representing authoritarian regimes from around the world. Manafort's reputation was so shady that he had ceased to be employable as a consultant in American elections until Trump came along. When he had served his purposes, Trump shoved him aside in favor of another campaign chief. Now he stands convicted of so many federal crimes he could spend the rest of his life in prison. He seems far more committed to the Trump mobster style, and surely hopes that by doing what he can to help the President, he might get a pardon. Trump has said the idea is "not off the table."

The President has the power to pardon anyone, but he cannot undo the damage he has already inflicted. Some like Tillerson, Kelly and Haley will recover and be regarded as people who more-or-less tried to help their country and were wounded in the process. Manafort's ignominy is assured. Cohen may have salvaged at least a part of his own reputation by helping Mueller. And everyone else who works for this President should be guarding theirs.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 488170

Reported Deaths: 6602
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1012851589
Ramsey43273808
Dakota36543394
Anoka33430390
Washington22183261
Stearns18786202
St. Louis14866265
Scott13381107
Wright12580116
Olmsted1184890
Sherburne877174
Carver783241
Clay694587
Rice672291
Blue Earth599635
Kandiyohi580674
Crow Wing522782
Chisago501045
Otter Tail485570
Benton449290
Winona420049
Mower410031
Douglas393768
Goodhue388069
Nobles387147
Polk344663
McLeod340550
Beltrami338751
Morrison326247
Itasca314246
Becker313942
Lyon313844
Isanti308256
Steele303011
Carlton300249
Freeborn285824
Pine282616
Nicollet261541
Todd249230
Brown247237
Le Sueur237420
Mille Lacs229047
Cass221024
Waseca210117
Meeker208134
Martin190629
Wabasha18713
Roseau180917
Hubbard160741
Houston158114
Dodge15384
Renville151640
Redwood147127
Fillmore13908
Pennington137716
Chippewa136835
Cottonwood135920
Wadena131320
Faribault124517
Aitkin119233
Watonwan11798
Sibley117610
Rock116114
Kanabec108119
Pipestone101824
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9538
Jackson94210
Swift87818
Pope8095
Marshall78415
Stevens7468
Lake74218
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68616
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5122
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned44768
Mahnomen4437
Kittson40921
Red Lake3615
Traverse3105
Lake of the Woods2221
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 336947

Reported Deaths: 5491
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk51993559
Linn19497317
Scott17149212
Black Hawk14956293
Woodbury13828214
Johnson1314875
Dubuque12444195
Dallas1021893
Pottawattamie9877146
Story963545
Warren514076
Clinton502184
Cerro Gordo500683
Webster495588
Sioux479869
Marshall464273
Des Moines427961
Muscatine425693
Buena Vista412637
Wapello4042110
Jasper387267
Plymouth368578
Lee354453
Marion341171
Jones285055
Henry279837
Bremer270255
Carroll266649
Crawford253535
Boone244030
Benton240854
Washington239247
Mahaska215746
Jackson209939
Dickinson204140
Tama202865
Kossuth198655
Delaware186140
Clay184425
Winneshiek183228
Fayette179235
Page177919
Buchanan177829
Wright174231
Hamilton173842
Cedar172723
Hardin169839
Harrison167670
Clayton160154
Butler159231
Mills148420
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146236
Lyon145541
Allamakee144148
Madison143018
Iowa140323
Hancock138030
Grundy132230
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129411
Cass129251
Jefferson128634
Appanoose123347
Louisa122444
Mitchell120540
Chickasaw119915
Union119131
Sac118718
Shelby117433
Emmet115440
Humboldt113725
Guthrie109628
Franklin109219
Palo Alto101321
Howard99522
Montgomery96936
Clarke95020
Keokuk92529
Monroe89828
Adair81529
Ida81532
Pocahontas80919
Davis76523
Monona76427
Greene73110
Lucas72121
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Unassigned6590
Taylor64112
Decatur5699
Fremont5599
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50620
Audubon4769
Wayne47121
Adams3184
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