TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - US Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials intervened to persuade Tillerson not to resign, NBC News reported Wednesday, citing 12 current and former senior administration officials and other people close to Trump.
Pence urged Tillerson to be respectful of the president, urging that any disagreements should be settled in-house.
Tensions between Tillerson and Trump came to a boil around the time the president delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, which Tillerson led for two years, the officials said.
A few days before the speech, Tillerson openly referred to Trump as a “moron” during a meeting on July 20 at the Pentagon with members of his national security team and Cabinet members.
US State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond disputed the report, telling the network that Tillerson never called Trump a "moron," and never considered quitting.
This is not the first time Trump and Tillerson appeared to have clashed.
Trump appeared to undercut Tillerson on Sunday for looking to engage in direct talks with North Korean officials.
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man...,” using his latest epithet for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un," Trump tweeted.
“...Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!” he added.
The White House and State Department have also taken divergent stances on other foreign policy issues.
Earlier this year, Trump backed Persian Gulf Arab leaders in their boycott of Qatar even as Tillerson and the Pentagon cautioned against a full-scale boycott of Qatar.
Tillerson had called on Saudi Arabia and its allies to ease their blockade of Qatar. But just hours later, Trump said the Saudi-led sanctions were necessary.
Tillerson has also clashed with the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who has a broad portfolio that includes policies in the Middle East, officials aware of the issue told NBC.