Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Tillerson Points To US 'Crisis Of Ethics And Integrity'

Tillerson Points To US 'Crisis Of Ethics And Integrity'

In an apparent swipe at US President Donald Trump, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Wednesday decried what he called "a growing crisis in ethics and integrity" in American public life.

Tillerson, who was overseeing the State Department and policy disputes with the White House, was unceremoniously dismissed by President Donald Trump in March this year after Trump announced his firing on Twitter.

"If our leaders seek to hide the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts", Tillerson said, "then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom".

While warning the graduates about an integrity crisis threatening the country, he said that when citizens go wobbly on truth in the most trivial matters, they go wobbly on America.

The former top US diplomat also dipped into foreign policy, taking some shots at President Trump's trade policy and criticism of USA allies.

He further took aim at some key Trump administration policies including its opposition to free trade, saying it "and economic growth are the means by which opportunity is created for all people" after Trump scrapped US participation in a Pacific free trade pact and ordered the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. However, he did it all without once mentioning Trump's name - much like his rather pointed farewell speech.

Truth, he said, is the "central tenet of a free society".

Nations not meeting defence spending targets will be "dealt with" warns Trump
It was a notable moment for a U.S. -NATO relationship that has sometimes seemed on shaky ground during the Trump administration. Trump didn't say what he would do to countries such as Canada, Italy and Germany, who haven't made the 2 per cent target.


Former State Department special adviser and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow claimed on Tuesday evening that Tillerson admitted that he wasn't prepared for the job, "Tillerson, if he had any logic, knew that he was going to be fired on some level", Farrow told Seth Meyers on Late Night.

The president spoke to reporters after posting the tweet, stating that he and Mr Pompeo shared similar thinking and he had "disagreed" with Mr Tillerson.

Social media users had a lot to say about the address. Tillerson said the VMI honor code helps students understand that "without personal honor, there is no leadership". "You will now enter a world where, sadly, that is not always the case".

"Look for employers who set high standards for ethical conduct", he added, naming no names.

Tillerson appeared to say that his own integrity is intact, even as he made joking reference to what was widely seen as his humiliating treatment by Trump.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Blessed is the man that can say that the boy he was would be proud of the man he is".

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