Rex Tillerson says Donald Trump 'speaks for himself' over Charlottesville response

'I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values' 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Sunday 27 August 2017 17:31 BST
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the State Department in Washington
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the State Department in Washington (AP)

Rex Tillerson, the US’s top diplomat, has said Donald Trump “speaks for himself” on his values, but that there should be no doubts about the government’s commitment to long-held American principles in the wake of violence in Charlottesville.

During an interview on Fox News Sunday, Mr Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, told host Chris Wallace that the State Department expresses America’s values.

“We represent the American people, we represent America’s values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to the equal treatment of people the world over, and that message has never changed,” Mr Tillerson said.

Mr Wallace then suggested that people may begin “to doubt whether we’re living those values” following Mr Trump’s response to violence that broke out at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and the United Nations’ reaction to the President’s comments.

“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,” Mr Tillerson said.

“And the President’s values?” Mr Wallace asked, to which the Secretary of State replied: “The President speaks for himself, Chris.”

“Are you separating yourself from that, sir?” Mr Wallace followed up.

“I’ve spoken — I’ve made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week,” Mr Tillerson said.

In response to Mr Tillerson’s comments, Eliot Cohen, a former counsellor at the State Department, wrote on Twitter that he believed “the Secretary of State just tossed the President of the United States under the bus.”

The UN last week criticised the President for failing to “unequivocally and unconditionally reject and condemn racist hate speech and crimes in Charlottesville”.

Mr Trump has received widespread bipartisan backlash for his comments appearing to equate white supremacists and new-Nazis with the left-wing demonstrators who opposed them at the rally. One Democrat even launched an effort to impeach the President over his response to the violence.

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