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Trump demanded NBC News apologize 'to America' for its 'fake news' Rex Tillerson story

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Updated October 04, 2017 11:24 AM EDT

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had "totally refuted" NBC News reports about earlier conflicts between them.

Tillerson says he's never considered leaving office

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said he has never considered leaving his post amid reports of conflict between him and President Trump.

"There has never been a consideration in my mind to leave," he said at the State Department.

"The vice president has never had to persuade me not to leave as I have never considered leaving this post," Tillerson added of Vice President Mike Pence.

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"President Trump's administration will continue moving forward as one team. I'm not going to be a part of an attempt to divide this administration."

Tillerson also derided media coverage of his relationship with Trump, calling it "erroneous" and "petty stuff" removed from the State Department's goals.

"I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that," he said of the reports. "I do not and I will not operate that way and the same applies to everyone on my team at the State Department."

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"Accountability is one of the bedrock principles the president and I share. There's no more important responsibility that I carry with me besides the safety of the United States."

Tillerson, who served as the chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. before joining Trump's administration, added he remains as passionate about his role as he did on day one.

"First, my commitment to this country and this president is as strong as the day I was offered to serve as secretary of State," he said in Washington, D.C.

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NBC News earlier Wednesday reported that Tillerson came close to resigning last summer but was dissuaded by several key figures in Trump's administration.

Multiple senior administration officials said tensions came to a head when Trump delivered a politicized speech to the Boy Scouts of America in late July, an organization Tillerson once led.

Tillerson had openly insulted Trump days earlier on July 20, three officials familiar with the incident said, calling the president a "moron" at the Pentagon during a meeting of Cabinet officials and Trump's national security team.

Pence ultimately counseled Tillerson, who is fourth in line from the presidency, to remain with Trump's administration through at least 2017's end.

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