Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that President Donald Trump “speaks for himself” when asked whether the President’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, raised questions about Trump’s values.
The brief remark from the top Cabinet official appeared to be the latest subtle sign of a gap between Tillerson, a former globe-trotting oil executive, and the freewheeling President, who ran a campaign in large part against how the US interacts with pillars of the international community.
It also points to a distance between Trump and some of his team on Charlottesville.
Tillerson said on “Fox News Sunday” that the United States was committed to freedom and “equal treatment of people the world over” when posed the question by anchor Chris Wallace.
“I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values,” Tillerson said.
“And the President’s values?” Wallace asked.
“The President speaks for himself,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson’s comment was in response to a line of questioning about a United Nations committee issuing a warning to the United States about racism and hate crimes, saying US leaders had not sufficiently condemned white supremacy. Trump was widely criticized for his response to the racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, in which he said “both sides” — white supremacists and those protesting them — were responsible for the clashes that left one woman dead and dozens injured.
Trump initially blamed the violence on “many sides,” but amid mounting criticism, he called out white supremacists and hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan specifically a couple of days later. Then, the next day, he generated further controversy with his “both sides” remark during a press conference at Trump Tower.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tillerson’s remarks, and the State Department said it would get back to CNN if there was “anything to share.”
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SOURCE: CNN, Eli Watkins