U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says President Donald Trump, who has faced criticism over his response to a recent white nationalist rally in Virginia, “speaks for himself” on his values.
Tillerson appeared on Fox News Sunday, and was asked by anchor Chris Wallace about a United Nations committee criticizing the Trump administration for its failure to condemn “racist violent events.”
Tillerson 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 of people the world over and that message has never changed.”
In Trump’s reaction to the rally he denounced bigotry, but blamed “many sides” for violence that erupted in the city of Charlottesville.
Pressed by Wallace on whether he was separating himself from Trump on the matter Tillerson said, “I have spoken, I have made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week.”
In the August 18 speech Tillerson condemned racism, saying “hate is not an American value.” He added, “We must pursue reconciliation, understanding and respect regardless of skin color, ethnicity or religious or political views.”
Last week, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued an appeal to the United States to repudiate racially-motivated crimes and hate speech following the rally in Charlottesville and warned a failure to do so could spark more deadly violence.
Tillerson’s comments on Fox News Sunday sparked a swift reaction on social media, including this Tweet from former State Department counselor and political scientist Eliot Cohen. “I do believe that the Secretary of State just tossed the President of the United States under the bus. ”