Donald Trump was reportedly left “seething” after footage of him comforting victims of the Las Vegas massacre was overshadowed by video of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appearing to call him a “moron”.
The US leader is reportedly ready to replace the former oil executive with CIA director Mike Pompeo after footage of Mr Tillerson’s gaffe dominated TV news channels ahead of his visit to the scene of America’s worst mass shooting.
After Mr Trump took to Twitter to call the 'moron' story fake, MSNBC anchorwoman Stephanie Ruhle who broke the story, was quoted assaying: “My source didn’t just say he called him a moron. He said he called him an f**ing moron.”
Rex Tillerson never threatened to resign. This is Fake News put out by @NBCNews. Low news and reporting standards. No verification from me.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2017
Mr Tillerson hastily organised a press conference shortly afterwards, which coincided with Mr Trump’s visit to Las Vegas.
He used it to deny he was considering his resignation.
“There has never been a consideration in my mind to leave. I serve at the appointment of the president and I’m here as long as the President thinks I can be useful to achieving his objectives,” Mr Tillerson said – but did not deny using the “moron” slur.
Mr Trump called reports about the “moron” slur “totally phoney” and said he had “total confidence" in Mr Tillerson as he visited some of the injured victims and members of the emergency services.
However, he was reportedly furious about the timing of Mr Tillerson's gaffe and the fact that his Secretary of State did not explicitly deny calling him a moron.
After what Trump considered a strong trip to Vegas, he seethed when he got back and saw Tillerson’s gaffe dominating cable-news coverage,” according to US new site Axios, which originally broke the story.
The website added that unnamed insiders claimed the relationship between the two men is now “broken beyond repair”.
The pair are nonetheless reported to have clashed on matters of foreign policy in recent weeks, particularly when Mr Trump engaged in a war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, branding him “rocket man”.
He promised “fire and fury” if the secretive communist state lands one of its missile trials on US territory.
Mr Tillerson is thought to prefer a more measured approach.