Tillerson has been scarcely perceptible in his six months at his post. He has acquiesced to an empty State Department and to having important diplomatic duties handed over to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Tillerson’s sycophancy and ineptitude have put him in reach of being a worse secretary of state than Hillary Clinton or John Kerry.
And who knows what comes out of Trump’s mouth in meetings like this? He shared classified intelligence with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office in May and showed little understanding of the dangers of blabbing to America’s geopolitical opponents. The complete lack of discretion or impulse control evident daily in Trump’s Twitter feed can hardly be expected to vanish in private conversations with foreign leaders he is eager to impress.
Our only reports on what was discussed by Trump and Putin at their meeting come from Tillerson and Lavrov, and they are equally hopeless. The Kremlin crafts responses designed to flatter Trump personally while making ridiculous claims of progress and cooperation. Trump is himself an unreliable narrator due to equal measures of ignorance and mendacity. When forced to choose which side to believe under such conditions, it’s safest to assume that neither account should be trusted.