Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called a reporter's question about whether he is resigning "ridiculous" when he was asked during a photo opportunity with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday
“That’s ridiculous,” Tillerson said while standing alongside Le Drian. When the reporter thanked him, he said, "It's a ridiculous question" as he and Le Drian walked away.
It’s not the first time in recent weeks that Tillerson has been forced to beat back speculation about his departure. He derided a similar question in early December, moments after welcoming Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to the State Department.
“It’s laughable,” he said. “It’s laughable.”
Rumors of Tillerson’s diplomatic demise have swirled for months, as he has suffered consistent criticism from outside opponents and leaks from inside the administration about his tense relationship with President Trump. In October, he was forced to address reports that he had called Trump a “moron” and contemplated resigning following the president’s speech to the Boy Scouts.
"Let me tell you what I've learned about this president, whom I did not know before taking this office," Tillerson said at the time. "He loves his country. He puts Americans and America first. He's smart. He demands results wherever he goes, and he holds those around him accountable for whether they've done the job he's asked them to do. Accountability is one of the bedrock values the president and I share."
"The secretary did not use that type of language to speak about the president of the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “He does not use that language to speak about anyone."
The New York Times reported in late November that the White House had contemplated firing Tillerson and replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, which Tillerson dismissed as a comically-false claim.