Tillerson testifies that Putin outmaneuvered Trump at Hamburg summit

May 24, 2019

On Thursday, May 23, President Donald Trump lambasted former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—calling him “dumb as a rock” on Twitter—following his seven hours of testimony before members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee the day before.

Tillerson, whom Trump fired by tweet in March 2018, told the committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin was better prepared than Trump for a meeting in Hamburg, Germany, in 2017—putting the U.S. president at a key disadvantage during that first tête-à-tête, The Washington Post reported.

The two-hour conversation between the world leaders, which was not the “get-to-know-you” session expected by Trump, covered a full range of geopolitical issues.

“We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted,” a Foreign Affairs Committee aide told the Post. “There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing.”

Trump fired back on Twitter, characterizing Tillerson as a man who was “totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, [and] made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin.”

Trump added, “I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”

According to the Post, in the past, Trump, has played down the importance of preparation—saying his gut instinct and ability to read a room are paramount for a successful summit.

“I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” Trump said ahead of his historic first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un last year. “It’s about attitude, it’s about willingness to get things done. So this isn’t a question of preparation, it’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen, and we’ll know that very quickly.”

In another rebuttal to Tillerson, the Post reported, Trump noted that Tillerson’s replacement, Mike Pompeo, is “doing a great job” and “agrees with my values.”

“Such a positive difference!” Trump added.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

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