U.S. President Donald Trump is suggesting he would beat Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an IQ test competition after reports that the country's top diplomat called him a "moron."
"I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win," Trump said in an interview Forbes magazine published Tuesday.
Still, Trump told reporters he has confidence in Tillerson and denied he undercut him with the quip about the IQ test.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "He made a joke, nothing more than that," adding that reporters asking about it should adopt a sense of humor.
Recent reports said Tillerson uttered the profane assessment of Trump's intelligence at a Pentagon meeting several months ago. In recent days, Tillerson has reaffirmed his commitment to Trump, but has not denied that he made the comment.
"I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that," Tillerson said last week as news of his remark surfaced. "I'm just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration."
Tillerson has distanced himself from some of Trump's foreign policy statements, most notably the president's taunts against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and whether the U.S. should negotiate with Pyongyang to curb its nuclear weapons development.
"I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," Trump said last week in a Twitter comment. "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!"
NBC News said Tillerson considered resigning over foreign policy disagreements with Trump, but the U.S. leader dismissed the report, calling it "Fake News put out by @NBCNews. Low news and reporting standards. No verification from me."
Whatever the state of their discord, Trump had a face-to-face meeting with Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday at a White House lunch.
Trump fired one more barbed comment Tuesday at another key U.S. foreign affairs figure, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said in a New York Times interview Sunday that he sees Trump as treating his role as the U.S. leader like a reality television show with threats toward other countries that could put the United States "on the path to World War Three."
"The Failing @nytimes set Liddle' Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I am dealing with!" Trump said.
Later, talking to reporters, Trump responded to a question about Corker's comment about the prospect of another world war.
“We were on the wrong path before," Trump said. "All you have to do is have to take a look. If you look over the last 25 years, through numerous administrations, we were on the path to a very big problem, a problem like this world has never seen. We’re on the right path right now, believe me.”
Corker told the newspaper, "I don't think he appreciates that when the president of the United States speaks and says the things that he does, the impact that it has around the world, especially in the region that he's addressing."
Trump, in an earlier tweet Sunday, said Corker, who has announced his retirement after the 2018 election, did not have the "guts" to run for a third six-year term in the Senate.
Corker quickly responded on Twitter, "It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."