Corker: Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly 'separate our country from chaos'

Story highlights

  • Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker announced last month he wouldn't seek re-election
  • NBC News reported earlier Wednesday that Rex Tillerson had called Trump a 'moron'

Washington (CNN)Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said Wednesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly "help separate our country from chaos."

"I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos, and I support them very much," the Republican chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee told reporters Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
    When asked about the relationship between President Donald Trump and Tillerson, which is reportedly on thin ice, Corker suggested that the secretary of state doesn't have the support he needs from the President.
    "I mean, look, I see what's happening here," Corker said. "I deal with people throughout the administration and (Tillerson), from my perspective, is in an incredibly frustrating place, where, as I watch, OK, and I can watch very closely on many occasions, I mean you know, he ends up being not being supported in the way I would hope a secretary of state would be supported, that's just from my vantage point."
    Corker has announced that he will not seek reelection after 2018.
    On Wednesday, NBC News reported Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" in a Pentagon meeting. But at an afternoon news conference, the secretary of state denied that he had ever considered resigning.
    Tillerson also denied that Vice President Mike Pence had to persuade him to continue in his role.
    "The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state because I have never considered leaving this post," Tillerson said Wednesday.
    However, Tillerson did not directly deny that he had referred to Trump as a "moron."
    Corker's praise of Trump's team was also a dig at the commander in chief, who the senator has previously criticized publicly for not having yet shown the "stability" and competence" to succeed in the office.
    On Wednesday, Corker added that he hoped that Mattis, Tillerson and Kelly would stay in their positions because "they're valuable to the national security of our nation, they're valuable to us putting forth good policies, they're very valuable as it relates to our citizens feeling safe and secure."
    When asked if by chaos, he meant chaos caused by Trump, Corker said: "It's just, they ... act in a very, they work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth around the world are you know, sound and coherent. There are other people within the administration, in my belief, that don't," he said, in an apparent nod to Trump.
    Corker said he would not get into details about whether Tillerson had considered resigning at any point.
    "I think he's in a very trying situation, trying to solve many of the world's problems a lot of the times without the support and help that I'd like to see him have," Corker said.