SECRETARY TILLERSON – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to Margaret Brennan in a wide-ranging interview that includes North Korea, Syrian chemical attacks, his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his relationship with President Trump. Andy Court, Evie Salomon and Kylie Atwood are the producers.
DIVIDED – Oprah Winfrey gathers the group of voters from Grand Rapids, MI, she interviewed last year for a spirited discussion about the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency. She finds a group still politically divided, yet who have become friends through activities and social media. Tanya Simon, Graham Messick, Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson, and Jack Weingart are the producers. THIS IS A TWO-PART SEGMENT
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tells 60 MINUTES that military action is possible if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to use chlorine gas against his own people. “We are serious about our demands that chemical weapons not become regularized or normalized as a weapon in any conflict,” Tillerson tells CBS News White House and senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan for a 60 MINUTES story to be broadcast Sunday, Feb. 18 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
In an excerpt of the 60 MINUTES story that appeared on CBS THIS MORNING, Tillerson also talks about his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and says that Russia has “special responsibilities, in our view, because of commitments they made to…destroy chemical weapons and ensure…they knew there were none” in Syria.
A transcript of the excerpt is below. Please credit 60 MINUTES.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve said you had a very close relationship with Vladimir Putin. You’ve done huge deals with him. Photos of you toasting him with champagne. And all that closeness raised eyebrows. It even inspired a “Saturday Night Live” skit. Did you ever see that skit?
SECRETARY TILLERSON: I did. My kids pointed me to it.
BRENNAN: Did you laugh?
TILLERSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. I laughed out loud.
BRENNAN: Since you’re secretary of state now, you’ve accused him of violating nuclear arms control agreements, of cheating on North Korea sanctions, letting Assad continue now to use chlorine gas chemical weapons on civilians. He doesn’t seem to be particularly concerned about the warnings you’re giving him.
TILLERSON: Well, I don’t know. We’ll see if he’s concerned or not. What our responsibility is, I think, is –
BRENNAN: There were six chlorine gas attacks in the past 30 days.
TILLERSON: That’s correct. And we have called them out for the fact that…Russia has special responsibilities, in our view, because of commitments they made…to destroy chemical weapons and ensure…they knew there were none.
BRENNAN: That sounds a lot like the last administration. That doesn’t sound very different.
TILLERSON: Well, when it comes to killing people with chemical weapons…it shouldn’t look any different. I think the only difference is the consequences for it. And President Trump has already demonstrated there will be consequences.
BRENNAN: Does that mean military action is still on the table –
TILLERSON: As it was –
BRENNAN: – for chlorine gas attacks?
TILLERSON: As it was in April last year, we are serious about our demands that chemical weapons not become regularized or normalized as a weapon in any conflict.