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News Wrap: Tillerson denies report he considered quitting this summer

In our news wrap Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied a report that he almost resigned over the summer. NBC News reported that Tillerson was close to quitting after President Trump’s politicized speech to the Boy Scouts of America. Also, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said there is no doubt that Russian hackers tried to influence the 2016 election.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In the day’s other news: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied that he almost resigned over the summer. And Vice President Pence denied that he talked him into staying. NBC News reported earlier today that Tillerson was close to quitting after President Trump’s politicized speech to the Boy Scouts, where Tillerson once served as a national leader.

    The secretary insisted that he never considered leaving. He stopped short of denying another part of the report, that he called the president a moron.

  • REX TILLERSON, Secretary of State:

    I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that. I mean, this is what I don’t understand about Washington. Again, I’m not from this place. But the places I come from, we don’t deal with that kind of petty nonsense. And it is intended to do nothing but divide people. And I’m just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Later, the State Department spokeswoman did deny that Tillerson called the president a moron. Mr. Trump said that the entire report was made up, and that he has — quote — “total confidence” in Tillerson. NBC News says that it stands by its story.

    Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee say the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia’s government is still open. They spoke today about their nine-month-old investigation. Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Mark Warner said there is no doubt that Russian hackers tried to influence the 2016 election, and that they will do it again.

  • SEN. RICHARD BURR, Chair, Select Committee on Intelligence:

    You can’t walk away from this and believe that Russia is not currently active in trying to create chaos in our election process. I assume that the same tactics that we saw in Montenegro, in France, in Belgium, and in the United States will continue to be tested.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The senators said that social media companies didn’t take Russian infiltration seriously enough at first, but are cooperating now. Facebook has turned over more than 3,000 advertisements tied to Russian interests, but the committee is not releasing the content.

    The White House budget chief says that there will not be a federal bailout for hard-hit Puerto Rico. President Trump suggested yesterday that the island’s huge debt will have to be wiped out. But the budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, says that’s not happening.

    Instead, the White House today requested $29 billion from Congress for disaster relief for Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. We will hear from the mayor of San Juan right after the news summary.

    This year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry goes to scientists from the U.S., Britain and Switzerland for creating finely detailed images of bio-molecules. The honorees are Jacques Dubochet of the University of Lausanne, Richard Henderson of Cambridge, and Joachim Frank of Columbia University, who got the early morning call at home.

  • JOACHIM FRANK, Co-Winner, Nobel Prize in Chemistry:

    I was very nervous, because we have this dog now, and we are anxious about being woken up at around that time by the dog. So there was a competition between the Nobel Committee and the dog. And all I kept saying, that this is wonderful news. I repeated myself, and, you know, I wasn’t very sophisticated in my response.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Starting in the 1970s, the researchers made breakthroughs in freezing organic molecules, so that they could be studied by electron microscopes. The technique is being used now to develop drugs against the Zika virus.

    Online retailer giant Amazon has been ordered to pay nearly $295 million in back taxes to Luxembourg. The European Union ruled today that the tiny nation gave Amazon illegal tax benefits over an eight-year period. It said the effect was to shield almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits from taxes. It’s the latest move in the E.U.’s crackdown to close tax loopholes.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained about 20 points to close at 22661. The Nasdaq rose three, and the S&P 500 also added three.

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