Former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cited many embarrassing moments, because of the back-channel diplomacy conducted by the President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to a congressional testimony released on Thursday.
He mentioned that diplomacy was being conducted behind his back, as the new administration was grappling with major foreign policy issues.
The former top US diplomat, who was fired by Trump in March 2018, told House Foreign Affairs Committee last month that he along with the then defense minister Jim Mattis were kept in the dark before the four Gulf countries decided to blockade Qatar in June 2017, but Kushner was notified weeks in advance.
He revealed that Kushner and then presidential adviser Steve Bannon had learned about the blockade, more than two weeks in advance, when they had attended a secret dinner, with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Tillerson said he had tried to convince the parties against the blockade. But Saudi Arabia and the UAE representatives did not tell him that they had conveyed their plans to the US in advance.
The former top US diplomat, who was also CEO of ExxonMobil – an American multinational oil and gas corporation – prior to joining the Trump administration, said Kushner and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had “a lot of communication between the two of them”.
He said Kushner had travelled to the Middle East, without consulting or informing the US Department of State.
Of course Jared Kushner didn't tell Secretary of State Rex Tillerson what he was doing in his meetings with foreign leaders. A White House aide without a security clearance can't have witnesses around when he's negotiating shady, personal business deals. https://t.co/NxA3ze7xke
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 27, 2019
Tillerson said when he raised the issue with Kushner, he promised to “try to do better”, but failed to live up to his promise.
Bruce Fein, former Justice Department official described the whole episode as “worrisome”.
“When the President runs foreign policy just out of the White House, it is secret government not just the dual government,” he told Al Jazeera news channel.
But the most embarrassing moment for Tillerson was to bump into his Mexican counterpart Luis Videgray dining with Kushner at a Washington restaurant.
Apparently, neither Mexico nor the White House felt obliged to inform him about this high-level visit.
Tillerson, whom Trump once called “dumb as a rock”, said he “could see the color go out” of the Mexican minister’s face when he greeted them at their table with a smile.
Read more: Trump Fires Tillerson
“And I said: ‘I do not want to interrupt what you all are doing,’” Tillerson recalled for the committee. “I said ‘Give me a call next time you are coming to town. And I left it at that.”
These diplomatic blunders continued with an epic one, when Tillerson learned that he was fired after a 13-month tenure, not through diplomatic means but via social media.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk