Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to say Sunday whether President Trump’s values align with the United States’ values, instead maintaining that Trump “speaks for himself.”
During Tillerson’s appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace questioned him about a United Nations committee’s criticism of Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., where a white supremacist rally ended in the death of a counterprotester.
Wallace first asked the nation’s top diplomat whether Trump’s rhetoric complicated the State Department’s ability to promote U.S. values abroad, which Tillerson denied before implying there was a distinction between Trump’s values and the U.S.’s values.
“I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values, or the commitment of the American government, or the government’s agencies, to advancing those values and defending those values,” Tillerson stated.
“And the president’s values?” Wallace batted back.
“The president speaks for himself, Chris,” Tillerson replied.
“Are you separating yourself from that, sir?” Wallace pressed.
“I’ve spoken, I’ve made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department,” Tillerson said plainly.
Tillerson was referring to forceful remarks he made days after the Charlottesville violence in which he declared “hate is not an American value.”
“We condemn racism, bigotry in all its forms,” Tillerson said in the Aug. 18 speech. “Racism is evil; it is antithetical to America’s values. It’s antithetical to the American idea.”
That strong rebuke was in contrast to Trump’s wavering response. The president initially said “many sides” were responsible for the unrest, before eventually condemning white supremacists. He later reiterated he believed there was “blame on both sides” for the violence. Trump defended his reaction at a rally in Phoenix Tuesday.