FACT CHECK: Did Rex Tillerson Say Trump Told Him To ‘Always Put Russia’s Interests’ First?

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claimed that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “President Trump told me to always put Russia’s interests above the United States’ interests.”

Verdict: False

There is no record of Tillerson making such a statement, before Congress or anywhere else.

Fact Check:

Tillerson’s tenure as secretary of state, which lasted from February 2017 to March 2018, was overshadowed by the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He did speak before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee multiple times – first when being considered for the cabinet position and again in October 2017.

However, there is no evidence that Tillerson ever made the remark attributed to him in the meme. Had he done so, it would have been widely covered by the media, yet there is no record of it online.

During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson said that while the U.S. should seek common ground with Russia, it must remain “clear eyed” about its relationship with the geopolitical adversary.

“Where important differences remain, we should be steadfast in defending the interest of America and her allies,” he said in January 2017. “Russia must know that we will be accountable to our commitments and those of our allies and that Russia must be held to account for its actions.”

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter