White House press secretary Sarah Sanders locked horns with CNN host Alisyn Camerota over President Trump’s decision to hire former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Sanders, during an interview on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday, dismissed Camerota’s questioning on the logic of Trump’s pick in light of a tweet by the president on Thursday calling Tillerson a man who is “dumb as a rock”
The president slammed his former secretary of state as “ill-prepared” in response to his claim that during a 2017 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin was better prepared than Trump.
Rex Tillerson, a man who is “dumb as a rock” and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany. I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2019
Tillerson, who was fired from the White House in March 2018, reportedly told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that ahead of the 2017 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, Putin’s better preparation “created an unequal footing” in the meeting, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Camerota wondered how Trump could have hired a man he now said was “totally ill-equipped,” grilling Sanders on the discrepancy.
“Now, let’s remember it was President Trump who chose Rex Tillerson as the secretary of state so the idea that he was totally ill-equipped — well, how do you explain that?” she asked.
“Look, the president’s meeting with Putin went extremely well, the president has made clear that having a relationship with Russia is better than not having one,” Sanders replied, focusing on the main issue following Tillerson’s meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday.
“I think everybody can agree on that. That’s a good thing. but at the same time, no one has been tougher,” Sanders added. “The president has been very well prepared not just for that meeting but the dozens and dozens of meetings that he has had with other foreign leaders.”
Not satisfied, Camerota fired back with some sarcasm.
“It’s hard to know since no notes are ever released after these meetings and there’s not a transcriber,” she said.
“Alisyn, that’s insane,” the press secretary fired back.
“The fact is, the president walked out of the meeting and did a press conference immediately following, as did a number of his aides who were participants in some of the small group sessions, like Secretary Pompeo and others,” she said.
“So the idea that there was no transparency is just ridiculous and it’s just simply false,” Sanders shut down the discussion as the CNN host only responded with a “thanks” for appearance.
Tillerson reportedly did not openly disparage Trump in the meeting, saying at one point that they both “shared a common goal: to secure and advance America’s place in the world and to promote and protect American values.”
“Those American values — freedom, democracy, individual liberty and human dignity — are the North Star that guided every action I took at the State Department,” Tillerson reportedly said, according to a Committee aide in the room, as reported by The Washington Post.