Rex Tillerson Takes Subtle Shots At Trump During Commencement Speech

Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson waves to applauding workers after delivering his parting remarks at the State Department in Washington U.S

Rex Tillerson, the former USA secretary of state, warned on Wednesday that America had plunged into a "crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders" that could set the country down "a pathway to relinquishing our freedom".

Tillerson, who was sacked in March by President Donald Trump, did not mention the president during his commencement speech at the Virginia Military Institute Wednesday - but warned of accepting "alternative realities" not "grounded in facts".

"When we as a people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America", he told the Class of 2018. If not addressed, "American democracy, as we know it, is entering its twilight years", he said.

Their relationship turned sour after Tillerson called Trump a "moron" during a meeting at the Pentagon in July a year ago.

More recently, Trump at first disputed that he was aware of a $130,000 payment made by his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges an affair with Trump. He never mentioned Trump by name, but his meaning was clear.

Two months after he was sacked by Trump, Tillerson took to the stage to talk to soon-to-be graduates of the Virginia Military Institute, warning them of the dangers of leaders "who hide the truth".

Tillerson's most powerful theme, however, was the importance of standing up for the truth. "Such damage strikes at the very heart of a free society, it undermines the public trust in institutions and the overwhelming number of individuals, organizations who do live and compete by the rules every day", he said.

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Despite repeated denials from the White House that Trump and Tillerson were at odds, the president eventually replaced Tillerson with then-CIA director Mike Pompeo for the top USA diplomat position.

Tillerson's successor hosted his first town hall with employees at the State Department on Wednesday.

During the question-and-answer portion, Pompeo addressed a range of inquiries from employees, including one about the strength of the US response to Russian aggression.

The State Department published excerpts of Pompeo's prepared remarks but did not allow access to the event for reporters.

"Look for employers who set high standards for ethical conduct", he added, naming no names.

However, the main theme of Tillerson's commencement speech appeared to be rooted in "ethics and integrity". Blessed is the man who does not try to blame all of his failures on someone else.

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