Tillerson to stay US secretary of state at least ‘for the whole year’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attends a press conference during the 24th Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) at the Hofburg palace in Vienna on December 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

US State Secretary Rex Tillerson, whose future at the department is often the subject of speculation, says he will stay in his position at least “for the whole” 2018.

“I think we’re going to have a very productive 2018,” Tillerson said during an interview with CNN. “And I look forward to having a very, very successful 2018.”

Asked if he would quit the administration, he added that he planned “to be here for the whole year.”

Speculations about his departure have been boosted since last October, when reports revealed that he called US President Donald Trump a “moron.”

This AFP file photo taken on December 20, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump speaking alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC.

Although Tillerson denied the NBC report at the time and was even challenged by Trump to take part in an IQ test, the issue re-emerged in a book by journalist Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” forcing the former ExxonMobil CEO to respond again.

“I’ve never questioned his mental fitness,” Tillerson said. “I have no reason to question his mental fitness.”

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According to the new book, “It became almost a kind of competition to demystify Trump… For Rex Tillerson, he was a moron. For Gary Cohn [Trump’s top economic adviser], he was dumb as s***. For H.R. McMaster [his national security adviser], he was a hopeless idiot. For Steve Bannon [his former chief strategist], he had lost his mind.”

Trump has on several occasions undercut his secretary of state, which has led to a rocky relationship between the two. Yet, Tillerson vowed to try having a better interaction with the Republican president in 2018.

“In terms of what I would do different, I’m going to build on my ability to communicate with the president better,” said the US state secretary. “I had to learn what is effective with this president. He is not typical of presidents of the past. I think that’s well recognized. That’s also the why the American people chose him.”

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