Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday appeared to distance himself from President Donald Trump’s statements on deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying “the president speaks for himself” on American values.
Tillerson said the State Department hasn’t changed its commitment “to equal treatment to people the world over,” he told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.
Asked if he was separating himself from the president, Tillerson said: “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.”
In that speech Aug. 18 in Washington, D.C., Tillerson said, “We do not honor nor do we promote or accept hate speech in any form and those who embrace it poison our public discourse and damage the very country that they proclaim to love.”
Trump has faced bipartisan criticism for his statements after violence in Charlottesville blaming “many sides” for the violence surrounding a white supremacist rally.
A counterprotester died after a car drove into a crowd, police said. A United Nations committee this week criticized the “failure at the highest political level of the United States of America to unequivocally reject and condemn the racist violent events and demonstrations.”
Tillerson, on Fox News Sunday, said, “We express America’s values from the State Department. We represent the American people. We represent America’s values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to equal treatment to people the world over. And that message has never changed.”
He added, “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.”
A White House spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment on Tillerson’s remarks.
Tillerson became the latest senior staffer to appear to separate himself from Trump’s remarks over Charlottesville. Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser, said in a Financial Times interview published last week that the administration “can and must do better” condemning hate groups.
— with Emily Ngo