Rex Tillerson Says Jared Kushner Conducted Foreign Policy Without Him

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson look up during a Cabinet meeting at the White House

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson look up during a Cabinet meeting at the White House

In one of the most awkward moments of his time as USA secretary of state, Rex Tillerson realized his Mexican counterpart was in Washington only when he walked into a restaurant and found him dining with President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

Tillerson detailed another instance in which the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates told Kushner and Trump advisor Steve Bannon about a secret plan to impose a blockade on US ally Qatar during a private dinner.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told lawmakers in May that President Donald Trump faced a "steep learning curve" dealing with the USA relationship with Russian Federation and immigration laws, according to a transcript of his closed-door interview released by a House committee on Thursday. Trump called him "dumb as a rock" in a tweet.

Tillerson's testimony, a transcript of which was seen by Reuters, shows how Tillerson's 13-month tenure as secretary of state, one of the shortest ever, was undermined by public disagreements with Trump and a sense that the former Exxon Mobil chief executive was being excluded from key discussions. "Give me a call next time you're coming to town'". And I think I said, you know: "It's going to get challenged in the court and you're going to lose", he said.

A recurring theme in the interview was Tillerson's frustration with Kushner conducting his own diplomacy from the White House, at times without the knowledge of Tillerson or Mattis.

Tillerson walked over and found Videgaray with Kushner.

The former top US diplomat and CEO of ExxonMobil said he "could see the color go out" of the Mexican official's face when Tillerson greeted them at their table with a smile.

"And I said: "I don't want to interrupt what y'all are doing", Tillerson recalled for the committee. Along with criminal justice and immigration issues, Kushner's broad portfolio in the administration covers U.S. -Mexico relations and the Middle East: He has spent the week in Bahrain at a U.S. -organized conference to roll out his Israel-Palestine peace plan.

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Toward the end of the interview, a committee member asked Tillerson if he could describe Trump's value system to the panel.

Speaking about Trump, Tillerson said he stood by his characterisation of the president as someone who was undisciplined, did not like to read his foreign policy reports, or get into details of things. He emphasized that Trump never asked him to break the law. "There was not a real clear understanding of the role, responsibilities, authorities... which made it challenging for everyone, I think, in terms of how to deal with activities that might be undertaken by others that were not defined within the national-security process itself".

Trump publicly took the side of the Saudis and Emirates despite the presence of thousands of USA troops stationed at al-Udeid airbase in Qatar.

And so on occasion I would have to say to him: Well, we can't do it that way.

"As it turned out later, the Foreign Secretary was operating on the assumption that everything he was talking to Mr. Kushner about had been run through the State Department", Tillerson continued. He noted that Kushner "met often" with Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and that the president's son-in-law requested that the secretary speak with an official from the kingdom to discuss a document they had been developing that was "kind of a roadmap" for the future of the relationship between the two countries. Kushner promised Tillerson he would "try to do better", but ultimately remained "in charge of his own agenda".

Tillerson testified that he confronted Kushner regarding his role in foreign policy, asking him to stop making trips overseas without first consulting the State Department.

Trump's presidency has been dogged by accusations, which he denies, that his campaign co-operated with Russian Federation in 2016 as Moscow worked to boost the Republican's chances of winning the White House.

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