Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear speaks with editorial cartoonist and columnist Ted Rall on Tillerson’s behavior and how it could be symptomatic of the US political establishment washing their hands of Trump en masse.
Before meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland earlier this month, Tillerson spoke of the shared values between the US and Canada, saying these values necessitated a rebuke of the violence seen by participants in the recent "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville that left dozens of people injured and one person dead.
"There is just simply no place for that in our public discourse and I want to add our condemnation of that," he said.
During a Fox News interview later that week, when asked if Trump spoke for the American people when he blamed both white supremacists and leftist counterprotsters for the violence, Tillerson replied, "The president speaks for himself."
This comes as a slew of people have been fired or are resigning from the Trump administration, but Rall says, "It doesn’t look like the establishment will let him fire Rex Tillerson. Everything I’ve read has basically been a plea of anguish to the president to please keep his secretary of state no matter what, mostly because they’re afraid of who might replace him, and secondarily, because they’re concerned about the impression that it would make on other countries."
Rall said "the cracks" in White House unity are obvious, reasoning that Tillerson "knows that life goes on after the Trump administration and he probably is aware of the fact that he’s not going to be there for a full term. So Rex has to look out for Rex and that’s what you’re seeing."
Host Brian Becker noted that over the last six months there has been a litany of people who either resigned or were fired by the administration, including former US National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, ex-FBI Director James Comey, former deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, ex-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Two economic councils have also been dissolved.
"What’s really striking about it is that he’s willing to burn people who conventional wisdom would tell you that he can’t let go of," Rall said. "Priebus was the head of the [Republican National Committee], his role was essentially to marry the Trump insurgent wing of the GOP to the establishment corporatist wing of the Republican Party. So that was Trump filing for divorce, something that he’s used to doing."
He had a similar analysis for the Comey firing, saying Trump "needed Comey for his legitimacy and his credibility within the establishment, and he didn’t care about blowing it up. So people who are looking to him to keep Rex Tillerson are self-deluded."
Rall believes that ultimately Tillerson and other officials trying to separate themselves from Trump are trying to make sure they have a soft place to land when the administration implodes.
"The only interpretation I have, perhaps because I’m super cynical, is that this is about self preservation," he reasoned. "I think the smart money is that Trump isn’t going to be around forever, if he makes it through a term he will almost certainly not be reelected, he might even be elected in a primary challenge. They don’t think he’s long for this world politically, so they are looking out for themselves and separating themselves from him because they don’t want to have the stink of some of these obnoxious statements and policy decisions on them afterward."