Trump Challenges Tillerson to 'Compare IQ Tests' after Reported 'Moron' Dig
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Donald Trump has challenged his secretary of state to “compare IQ tests” – if Rex Tillerson did call the president a “moron”, as reported.
Trump told Forbes magazine: “I think its fake news. But if he did [say] that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”
The president spoke to the magazine on Friday and the interview was published online on Tuesday, The Guardian reported.
Trump’s tense relationship with Tillerson burst into public view last week. An NBC story claimed Mike Pence, the vice-president, had to talk Tillerson out of resigning this summer, and that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron”. Some reports said he called the president “a fucking moron”.
In a press conference, Tillerson said he never considered resigning but did not deny calling Trump a moron. His spokeswoman said he never used such language. Trump and Tillerson are scheduled to have lunch Tuesday with Jim Mattis, the defense secretary.
In the Forbes interview, Trump also claimed to have had “just about the most legislation passed of any president, in a nine-month period, that’s ever served. We had over 50 bills passed. I’m not talking about executive orders only, which are very important. I’m talking about bills.”
Trump has made such claims of unprecedented legislative success – and had them debunked – before.
He added: “I also have another bill … an economic development bill, which I think will be fantastic. Which nobody knows about. Which you are hearing about for the first time.”
That bill, he said, would include “economic-development incentives for companies” and “incentives for companies to be here”. He said companies that kept jobs in America would be rewarded while those sending operations offshore would “get penalized severely”.
“It’s both a carrot and a stick,” Trump said. “It is an incentive to stay. But it is perhaps even more so – if you leave, it’s going to be very tough for you to think that you’re going to be able to sell your product back into our country.”
In a volley of four tweets issued on Tuesday morning, meanwhile, Trump seemed to say he was about to issue an executive action on healthcare.
“Since Congress can’t get its act together on HealthCare,” he wrote, “I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people – FAST.”
Republican attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, have repeatedly failed in the Senate amid widespread opposition for plans that, nonpartisan analysis has said, would take access to health insurance away from millions of Americans.
Trump’s tweeted threat of executive action stood at odds with what he told Forbes. “The Democrats want to make a deal,” he told the magazine. “ … At the same time, I think I have a deal with the Republicans. So I have the best of both worlds. That’s business to a certain extent. I’m very able to make deals with Democrats if I have to.”
Members of the president’s own party have voted down the ACA replacement plans, and one deficit hawk who voted for the healthcare bills, Bob Corker of Tennessee, has emerged as a Republican establishment voice against planned tax reform. Over the weekend, Trump and Corker engaged in a bizarre exchange of insults on Twitter and, in Corker’s case, through the pages of New York Times.
On Twitter on Tuesday, Trump contradicted his claim to Forbes again, turning his fire on Democrats over a deal supposedly ripe for negotiation – the one to protect Dreamers, young undocumented migrants brought to the country as children and previously protected by the Obama administration.
Democratic leaders expressed strong opposition to a list of hardline demands the White House issued on Sunday as its first step towards the deal. Among other measures, the White House said funding for a border wall with Mexico would be part of any accord. Democrats and Dreamers reacted with horror; the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said no deal could proceed if a wall was included.
“The problem with agreeing to a policy on immigration is that the Democrats don’t want secure borders,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “They don’t care about safety for USA.”
Trump also complained again about the NFL, in which player protests during the anthem have continued this season, much to the president’s chagrin.
“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our anthem, flag and country?” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Change tax law!” The NFL gave up its federal tax-exempt status a few years ago and now files tax returns as a taxable entity.
The final tweet of the early morning sequence took aim at ESPN and an anchor suspended for comments on the anthem furore made on social media. The tweet also returned to one of Trump’s main preoccupations: ratings.
“With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked’. In fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!”