Not surprisingly, the panel on Deadline: White House Thursday delighted in reporting on former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s harsh words for President Trump as reported by The Washington Post. Of course, President Trump did not hesitate to punch back at Tillerson; calling him “dumb as a rock.” According to host Nicolle Wallace, “he (Trump) called someone else ‘dumb as a rock,’ he called Nancy Pelosi crazy, I think he worries that maybe someone thinks he’s dumb as a rock and crazy.”
Heidi Przybyla, NBC News National Political Reporter, praised Pelosi’s use of “toddler language” along the lines of “when you eat your peas and squash, I’ll be happy to talk with you about dessert.” Jonathan Lemire of The Associated Press shared the excitement of his female co-panelists, romanticizing how Pelosi “trolls him and she knows his soft spots. She knows exactly where to…plunge the knife time and time again.”
The conversation concluded with Lemire pulling out his pom-poms for Pelosi, calling her “the perfect foil for this President” and claiming “she has gone toe-to-toe and has won almost every battle.” The praise of Pelosi was hardly an anomaly in the media, with talking heads on both cable and network news commending her for getting under the President’s skin.
Wallace and her panel continued to insult President Trump; after bringing up his description of Tillerson as “dumb as a rock,” Wallace noted “we’ve been talking about projection this hour.” Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post agreed with Wallace’s analysis, describing President Trump’s “dumb as a rock” moniker as “total projection.”
Robinson also brought up Tillerson’s alleged reference to President Trump as a “bleeping moron” before contrasting the President, who ran a “boutique branding company” with Tillerson, who ran “one of the biggest and most complicated companies in the world.” Robinson concluded “I think you could just sort of judge who’s the bleeping idiot.”
After saying that “Obama knows more on an Ambien slumber than this guy knows all hopped up,” Wallace could barely contain her excitement as she read aloud one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s tweets: “Speaking of tweet storms, we’re hoping that the storm knocked out the President’s cable because here’s what Nancy Pelosi just tweeted moments ago: ‘when the extremely stable genius starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade, and other issues.’” Wallace’s voice broke like she was about to laugh uncontrollably as she proclaimed “Pelosi again and again and again getting the last word.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Thursday’s edition of Deadline: White House is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Deadline: White House
NICOLLE WALLACE: You might have noticed this already but there’s a general theme to Donald Trump’s trips abroad, failure. He got played by Putin in Helsinki and Jonathan Lemire; and left Vietnam early without any sort of agreement from Kim Jong-un and North Korea. Now, his former Secretary of State is giving us a little clue as to why that always happens. It’s Donald Trump’s lack of preparation in part. In his vol…in Tillerson’s voluntary testimony in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week, Washington Post is reporting Rex Tillerson revealed that Trump was outprepared by Vladimir Putin when they first met at the vital G-20 in Hamburg, Germany back in 2017. That put the United States at a distinct disadvantage. Committee aides told the Post “the U.S. side anticipated a shorter meeting for exchanging courtesies, but it ballooned into a globe-spanning two-hour-plus session involving a variety of geopolitical issues.” That reporting struck a nerve with the President, who tweeted this: “Rex Tillerson, a man who is ‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped…” The President wrote this. He wrote that his Secretary of State is “dumb as a rock,” we’ve been talking about projection this hour. Just put that away. Continued: Tillerson, “totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany. I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!” You can’t make this up, Eugene Robinson.
EUGENE ROBINSON: No, you can’t.
WALLACE: Who has joined us. As, I mean…for, let me just, let me just…
WALLACE: …he called someone else dumb as a rock…
WALLACE: …he called Nancy Pelosi crazy. I think he worries that maybe someone thinks he’s dumb as a rock and crazy.
ROBINSON: Total projection.
WALLACE: And then he says, “I was prepared, just ask Putin.” How about just ask Mattis? He was there…or just ask, I mean, ask Putin how great I did. What?
ROBINSON: I know. I know. You can’t make this up. You wouldn’t make this up. This is ridiculous. They are kind of even now because if you recall, Tillerson, while he was Secretary of State said the President was a bleeping moron. So I…
ROBINSON: …I guess…
WALLACE: I think it was idiot. It was an idiot.
ROBINSON: Right, now, you can, you can compare…you know, Donald Trump ran the Trump Organization, which is a boutique branding company. And Rex Tillerson did run Exxon Mobil, one of the biggest and most complicated companies in the world, in the history of the world. So I think you could just sort of judge who’s the bleeping idiot.
WALLACE: But let me, let me press you because there’s a lot of thin skinness around his intelligence and his stability. Here he is moments ago about his stability and his intelligence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I haven’t changed very much. Been very consistent. I’m an extremely stable genius.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBINSON: I’m sorry. Before coming on, I didn’t know that he had said that again.
WALLACE: A little surprise for you, my friend.
ROBINSON: An extremely stable genius.
WALLACE: Here’s the thing. No one that says it…
ROBINSON: If you’re telling people you’re an extremely stable genius, you most certainly are not. I mean, right? Isn’t that an axiom to this? This is amazing.
WALLACE: I mean…
ROBINSON: It is kind of scary because he’s President of the United States. We saw that…
WALLACE: It’s a little bit scary.
ROBINSON: Yeah, we saw the performance yesterday and we’re seeing it today. I’m with Nancy Pelosi. I think I’m going to pray.
JONATHAN LEMIRE: Well, in the same event that just happened at the White House, he had several aides come up and attest to the press…
WALLACE: Like the cabinet?
LEMIRE: …how calm he, how calm he was…
WALLACE: The cabinet?
LEMIRE: …yesterday. It was Sarah Sanders, members of the press staff…
WALLACE: Oh, staffers.
LEMIRE: Staffers, we’re saying, he’s had them come up one by one and tell the press how calm he was in the meeting with Pelosi and Schumer yesterday. So yes, he’s clearly…we talked about being reactionary before. That’s what’s happening again now, and it’s showing a remarkable degree of thin skinness right here. But back to the original topic. There’s no question that this is a, this is a complaint that not just Rex Tillerson has had, but other staffers as well; that it’s hard to get the President to focus, it’s hard to get him to pay attention and put in the time needed on his briefing materials to prepare for these trips. He puts off preparing for these overseas trips usually to the last minute, often on the plane going over there. And whether it was Putin or his first meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing, aides afterward said that he felt like that he was definitely playing the, the shorter hand in the exchange with the other leader while President Xi or Putin seemed much more prepared in terms of driving the narrative of the conversation.
WALLACE: I want to, I want to get to the…
ROBINSON: Well, they were because they had to be. Remember his own…Trump’s own description of how he ran the Trump organization, which is he didn’t plan ahead. He just woke up, went to the office, and whatever came up he just kind of dealt with it. You cannot be President of the United States successfully that way. It’s…I mean, you were there…
WALLACE: Can I just ask, I mean, can I just ask? I want to get into this Tillerson reporting because it’s great but are we dancing around something? We came on the air with Nancy Pelosi praying for him. We cut to because in our hour talking about an erratic presidency, the President calling her crazy. We then broke in with the President describing himself as stable. We’re now going back to a story about his own Secretary of State who travelled the world over who talks about how unprepared he was. Carol Lee and your team have reported on what, what some of the military and diplomatic cabinet officials thought of him privately. But it’s not normal to not be able to pay attention to your military leaders when you’re the country’s Commander-in-Chief. This is from that Washington Post report, “shortly after becoming Commander-in-Chief, President Trump asked so few questions in a briefing at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida that top military commanders cut the number of prepared PowerPoint slides to three - they had planned 18 - said two officials with knowledge of the visit. The commanders had slotted two hours for the meeting, but it lasted less than one.” I’ve been to, to briefings in the tank, I’ve been to briefings at Air Force bases. There’s not fluff. The military commanders don’t make 18 slides of stuff you should know, they make stuff you need to know.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA: This is entirely consistent with everything that we’ve learned about this President over the past two years, though. Rex Tillerson is just adding one more vignette to this broader picture that we’ve known for two years now. You know this, Nicolle, that he doesn’t read his daily brief because he can’t…it’s not digestible…that his aides know this, that they break things down into one or two sentences and that this is why, fundamentally, he’s not able to, for instance, sit down and cut a deal, even though that’s was his entire image, because he’s not patient enough to get into the weeds of a deal on immigration or into the weeds of a deal on infrastructure; that his art of the deal really is all about force of personality and we see that play out in his dealings with Congress and we see that play out on the international stage. It’s no surprise he got played by Putin because the whole narrative when he was meeting with Kim Jong-un was that we got horribly played in a way no that previous President has ever gotten played by the North Koreans, in terms of granting Kim Jong-un a face-to-face meeting with an American President. That’s because his art of the deal really is just get me in there, just get me across the table from somebody, I don’t need to prepare, I don’t need to know anything about the substance, it’s just the force of my personality and my…
WALLACE: And what, what has it delivered so far?
PRZYBYLA: …tight handshake. That’s, that’s…
PRZYBYLA: That’s the problem. So he has delivered grandly in terms of the Republican donor agenda. I mean, they’ve gotten everything, they’ve gotten deregulation, tax cuts, judges. And that’s the problem, though, is Trump’s populist agenda…
WALLACE: From Don McGahn…
ROBINSON: Don McGahn, right.
KIMBERLY ATKINS: That’s not, that’s not deal making with any adversary.
ATKINS: When it comes to that, that’s when he consistently falls short.
WALLACE: But here, here are the people he’s attacked who worked for him. I mean, Rex Tillerson, I think, is interesting because he’s, he’s one of many. These are all the people that the President hired and then the President attacked. Don McGahn, who delivered on all those things you just described, judges, deregulation, kept him out of the criminal side of obstruction; FBI Director Chris Wray, who he’s been attacking in an ongoing manner; Jeff Sessions, who was his Attorney General; Rod Rosenstein, Steve Bannon, Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Omarosa. Sorry.
WALLACE: Fed Reserve Chairman, I mean, the point is, these are the witnesses…
WALLACE: …to what we’re all talking about because he attacks the people that he hired.
ATKINS: And look, in the case of Rex Tillerson, since he left the State Department, he’s largely stayed quiet and even by this own report, he didn’t go there looking to cast aspersions against the President in this meeting. He was answering the questions that were being posed of him about the preparedness, and he answered them frankly and I think it goes to, to both things, it goes to this skin thinness that we’ve seen, that comment that Rex Tillerson made two years ago now about him beeping a bleeping moron, clearly stuck in the President’s craw and still enrages him, that just the mention of Rex Tillerson’s name with anything negative is going to send him on a tweet storm. But it’s also…it’s not just aides talking about the President’s lack of preparedness, it’s himself. He boasted about it like it was an asset, that I don’t need all of these hours of briefings. I don’t need to be told over and over again what’s happening. I know. I got…that’s for other Presidents who were not as good, usually talking about Barack Obama and trying to paint this as a strength that he does not actually need to…
WALLACE: Oh my God, Obama knew more on an…on an, Ambien Slumber than this guy knows all hopped up. But speaking of tweet storms, we’re hoping that the storm knocked out the President’s cable because here’s what Nancy Pelosi just tweeted moments ago. “When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues.’” So Pelosi again and again and again getting the last word.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA: That’s more toddler language, when you eat your peas and squash, I’ll be happy to talk with you about dessert. Toddler language.
WALLACE: Yes. Yes. You want, you want your 15 minutes of screen time, you know, finish your reading log.
LEMIRE: She, she trolls him and knows his soft spots. She knows exactly where to…
ROBINSON: She does.
LEMIRE: …plunge the knife time and time again. You know, this is…it’s hard to imagine there were any Democrats that did not think she was the right choice for Speaker going into this session of Congress. At the very least, she has proven herself to be the perfect foil for this President. She has gone toe-to-toe and has won almost every battle.