Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday to discuss his time working for the Trump administration, a committee aide confirmed to USA TODAY.
Tillerson was interviewed by a handful of lawmakers for seven hours, including the committee’s chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Michael McCaul, the ranking Republican on the committee, according to the Daily Beast, who first reported the Capitol Hill appearance.
The committee is yet to issue a statement about Tillerson’s sit-down.
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The voluntary appearance comes at a time when a number of former and current Trump administration officials are refusing congressional requests to come before committees and to provide documents to lawmakers.
Attorney General William Barr earlier this month refused to comply with a subpoena, and was later held in contempt by the House Judiciary Committee for refusing to hand over an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia probe. President Donald Trump invoked executive privilege over the unredacted version of Mueller’s report.
Also on Tuesday, former White House counsel Don McGahn failed to comply with a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. The White House on Monday pointed to a legal opinion from the Justice Department that said he could not be forced to appear before the panel.
The head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Engel, wrote in a 15-page letter that “Congress may not constitutionally compel the president’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.”
But in Tillerson’s case, “the White House knew of the testimony in advance and did not move to block it,” the Washington Post reported.
During his Tuesday appearance, he discussed a number of topics related to foreign affairs, his tenure as secretary of state, and operations of the United States’ foreign policy system, the Washington Post also reported, quoting a spokesman for Tillerson.
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In addition, Tillerson talked about the Trump administration avoiding confrontation with Russia over the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election and how senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, would interfere with the former secretary of state’s communication with the president, according to the Daily Beast.
Tillerson, who was fired from his position in March 2018, had a tumultuous relationship with the president. While in office, he reportedly called the president a “moron,” and then refused to address whether or not he had said the remark.
During an interview with CBS News’s Bob Schieffer late last year, Tillerson said Trump “is pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things, but rather just kind of says, ‘This is what I believe.'”
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