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Tillerson's Take on Trump-Putin Meeting Infuriates Trump

President says it was Tillerson who was 'totally ill prepared'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2019 10:00 AM CDT
President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
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(Newser) – Rex Tillerson was "totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State," according to the man who appointed him. President Trump's tweeted insults about Tillerson, whom he again referred to as "dumb as a rock" on Thursday, came after Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin had out-prepared Trump at a key 2017 meeting. During a seven-hour closed meeting with the committee on Tuesday, Tillerson said Trump was at a disadvantage in the two-hour-plus meeting in Hamburg, Germany, as a variety of geopolitical issues were discussed, CNN and the Washington Post report, citing anonymous committee aides. "We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted," the Post quotes one aide as saying.

Aides reportedly weren't surprised by the account of the president, who famously said, "I don't think I have to prepare very much" ahead of his June 2018 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But Trump said he "was perfectly prepared" and "did very well at those meetings," per the Post. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders seconded that and, when asked about a seeming lack of transparency related to Trump-Putin interactions, said such claims were "insane" and "simply false," per Politico. Tillerson—whom CNN reports will be able to review his testimony transcript before it is made public—also reportedly said senior adviser Jared Kushner could be outmaneuvered given his poor understanding of history and failed to follow traditional diplomatic protocols, so that his dealings with world leaders were obscured. (Read more President Trump stories.)

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