Rex Tillerson says he had to use maps and photos with “two big bullet points" to hold Donald Trump’s attention.
Rex Tillerson, who formerly served as the secretary of state, has revealed how he used simplified maps, photos and bullet points – but no more than two – to communicate with the US president.
In an interview with Foreign Policy, Mr Tillerson said he sometimes struggled to catch Mr Trump’s attention, and that he changed tactics to engage the commander in chief in foreign affairs.
“I used to go into meetings with a list of four to five things I needed to talk to him about, and I quickly learned that if I got to three, it was a home run,” said Mr Tillerson, who admitted that reaching two topics with Mr Trump “was probably the best objective.”
Mr Tillerson said he started to take pictures and charts that allowed him to build-on certain topics with the president, and that “those seemed to hold his attention better.”
Those briefings included a combination of two bullet points, pictures and charts, that would attract the president’s interest. Otherwise, admitted Mr Tillerson, his conversations were “really hard”.
“If I could put a photo or a picture in front of him or a map or a piece of paper that had two big bullet points on it, he would focus on that, and I could build on that,” Mr Tillerson added.
He was fired by Mr Trump in March 2018 after a series of public fallouts between the pair, having reportedly referred to the president as a “moron”.
They were also said to have disagreed on a number of policy issues, such as the United States’ commitment to the Iran nuclear deal. The Trump administration would announce its withdrawal from the agreement two months after Mr Tillerson’s exit.
“His understanding of global events, his understanding of global history, his understanding of US history was really limited,” Mr Tillerson told Foreign Policy. “It’s really hard to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t even understand the concept for why we’re talking about this.”
Mr Tillerson, who formerly headed Exxonmobil, went on to say “nothing worked out” with North Korea because Mr Trump met with Kim Jung-un, which he said “was one of the last straws”.
Similar remarks were used to describe Mr Trump’s actions towards Russia and China, to which Mr Tillerson added: “We’re in a worse place today than we were before he came in, and I didn’t think that was possible.”
The interview was carried out prior to the assault on the Capitol by the president’s supporters last week. Most of whom wrongly claimed that November’s election was “stolen”.
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