Tillerson Tells Graduates of 'Crisis in Ethnics and Integrity' in US Diplomacy

Rex Tillerson

The latest commencement speaker to make veiled references denouncing threats to established norma of American society is...

And he said that only societies able to pursue the truth and challenge alternate realities can be truly free.

On free trade, which Trump has questioned, Tillerson noted that much of the developed world saw it as a net positive.

The former ExxonMobil chief executive, who did not know Trump before interviewing for the job, was overruled by the president on several major policy issues, including the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and the intent, clear long before Tillerson was sacked, to leave the Iran nuclear deal.

Tillerson did not explicitly mention Trump by name during his address Wednesday but warned against accepting "alternative realities" unhinged from the truth - a possible allusion to the "alternative facts" the White House proposed after Trump lied about crowd sizes at his inauguration.

Things were never really the same after reports surfaced last fall that Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" in a Pentagon meeting in the summer of 2017.

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"A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what truth is and is not, what a fact is and is not, and begin by holding ourselves accountable to truthfulness, and demand our pursuit of America's future be fact-based", Rex Tillerson said during a commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington.

"When we as people go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem as trivial matters, we go wobbly on America".

But he was also criticized for mismanaging the State Department, instituting a hiring freeze that was seen as destructive and unnecessary, leaving top positions vacant or filled by officials in acting roles, and concentrating power within a small inner circle that alienated many employees. In it, he urged graduates to "confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both the public and private sector".

Tillerson told the graduates that integrity is "the most valuable asset you have" and advised them to "carefully consider the values and culture of the organizations in which you seek to work".

"Look for employers who set high standards for ethical conduct", he added, naming no names. The New York Times characterizes his remarks as a "powerful rebuke" of the president.

Mr Tillerson, a Texan and the chief executive of energy company ExxonMobil for a decade before joining Trump's administration, was replaced with Central Intelligence Agency directer Mike Pompeo, who has since made two trips to North Korea to hold discussions with Kim.

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