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Tillerson re-emerges for veiled swipe at Trump

Tracy Wilkinson, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- In an apparent swipe at President Donald Trump, his fired secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, warned Wednesday that "going wobbly" on truth endangers American democracy.

Tillerson, a former Texas oil executive who Trump dismissed in March via Twitter, delivered the commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute.

"If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society among our leaders in both public and private sector, and regrettably at times in the nonprofit sector," Tillerson told the graduates, "then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years."

He added that "if our leaders seek to conceal the truth" or if Americans accept "alternative realities" not "grounded in truth," then the citizenry is on the road to "relinquishing our freedom."

The former secretary of state, who served slightly more than a year, never mentioned Trump by name. But the president is known to frequently play loose with facts.

Tillerson also chastised those who would abandon allies and international treaties, actions that Trump often favored over Tillerson's objections.

"We must never take these long-held allies for granted," Tillerson said.

After he was fired, Tillerson returned to his ranch in Texas. This was the first publicized speech he has made since then.

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