New Delhi: In an interview with Forbes magazine published on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump had suggested he’s smarter than secretary of state Rex Tillerson and that the two should “compare IQ tests”.
However, the comment, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, was a joke.
Trump did not imply he was smarter than Tillerson, his top spokesperson said on Tuesday, claiming that his offer for both to take an IQ test was a joke.
“He wasn’t questioning the secretary of state’s intelligence,” Sanders said. “He made a joke. Maybe you guys should get a sense of humor and try it sometime. He simply made a joke.”
Trump’s tense relationship with Tillerson burst into public view last week. An NBC news story claimed US vice president Mike Pence had to talk Tillerson out of resigning this summer, and that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron.”
On the Tillerson’s “moron” comment, Trump said in his Forbes interview, “I think it’s fake news. But if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”
Trump and Tillerson were scheduled to have lunch on Tuesday at the White House with defense secretary Jim Mattis.
According to a report in The Hill, Sanders said the two men “had a great visit at lunch” and reiterated Trump has confidence in his secretary of state.
Trump has repeatedly made comments about his “high IQ” and others alleged “low IQ”. “We have by far the highest IQ of any cabinet ever assembled!”, he had said during his inaugural festivities in January this year.
In December 2015, he had tweeted, “@ajodom60: @FoxNews and as far as that low-info voter base goes, I have an IQ of 132. So much for that theory. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain”.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2015
His repeated IQ references clearly show he may not necessarily have been ‘joking’ about comparing IQ levels with Tillerson.
Some other instances of a Trump “joke”, according to the White House spokesperson, include when he told police officers to be “rough” with suspects, comments that were rebuked by police departments across the country.
Additionally, in July last year, during his election campaign, he had said he was “being sarcastic” when he suggested that Russia should find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.
(With inputs from PTI)