Working for President Donald Trump, by all accounts, seems like an extremely bad job. Cabinet secretaries from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to HUD chief Ben Carson have been dogged with reports and rumors that they’ve considered quitting, not to mention the seemingly never-ending stream of aides who have flooded out of the White House.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, however, might be the unhappiest. Tillerson told a reporter at the conservative Independent Journal Review a few months into his term that he didn’t “want this job,” and Politico reported in November not only that Trump wanted to replace the former Exxon executive as the head of the State Department, but who he wanted to replace him with, CIA chief Mike Pompeo.
According to a new AP report, Tillerson’s current diplomatic trip to Africa on behalf of the man he once called a “fucking moron” has seen him saying things that have been contradicted again and again by the administration’s own actions, on policies ranging from elephant trophies to trade to American aid.
For example, Tillerson praised PEPFAR, a governmental aid program designed to help stem the HIV/AIDs crisis, and said that because of the program, we “can actually now see a future free of HIV/AIDS”:
Tillerson’s trip to Kenya was designed in part to highlight the success of PEPFAR, the 15-year-old HIV/AIDS program that has saved millions of lives and helped see the continent through an epidemic that once threatened to wipe out a whole generation. More than 13 million people with HIV in Africa are on lifesaving antiretroviral drugs thanks to PEPFAR, the U.S. has said.
There’s only one problem, as the AP notes: Trump wants to slash PEPFAR. A ONE Campaign report from last November estimated that Trump’s proposed $800 million cut to the program “could lead to 4 million deaths and 26 million new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa over the next 15 years.”
In the case of the elephants, Tillerson visited a U.S.-funded forensic lab that helps track down elephant poachers. “That’s really the key, is to shut [the international elephant parts trade] all down,” Tillerson said. However, the AP reports:
Three months after Trump’s move to keep the ban in place, his administration reversed course again, saying elephant trophies could be imported on a “case-by-case basis.” The U.S. agency said it chose that course of action to comply with a court ruling that said the Obama administration failed to follow proper procedure in enacting the original ban.
“The whole world is against it,” Paula Kahumbu, a Kenyan elephant expert, told the AP. “To then say, ‘Oh, but we have a special case for some of our people, they should be allowed to have ivory,’ it totally undermines the U.S. leadership role.”
Tillerson also reportedly urged the African Union to not impose a 0.2 percent tariff on imports, at the same time that Trump is hamfisting his way through a tariff policy that no one actually understands.