Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that current top diplomat Rex Tillerson has a tough job — made more challenging by President Donald Trump's freewheeling communication style.
"I think what's hard is to get up every day and not know what the president said at 3 o'clock in the morning," Rice said on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. "That would be exceedingly difficult."
Rice was one of the key voices in the foreign policy arena championing Tillerson when he was first nominated. And she said Sunday the top diplomat, with whom Rice's consulting firm worked when he was chief executive of ExxonMobil, is doing his best in what Rice called a "unusual administration." The pair recently spoke together at Stanford University, where Rice is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
"I think that Rex Tillerson, in a usual administration with an unusual president, who has never been in government before, is really doing a very good job on the diplomacy and is just putting his head down and going about that work," Rice said, crediting Tillerson for working to isolate North Korea and ensuring the U.S. maintains some diplomatic ties to Russia.
Like others in the Republican establishment, Rice voiced concerns about then-candidate Trump and even called for him to withdraw after comments he made about women during a 2005 Access Hollywood taping became public.
Despite their differences, Rice stressed that she respects Trump's office and that many of her former colleagues are now serving in the administration — though she acknowledged that some of what she hears out of the White House makes her "uncomfortable."
"Do I like some of the language that comes out of this White House? No," Rice said. "I do recognize that it is a different circumstance with social media with a president who has never been in government before. But we as Americans have to also respect our system, and I think our system is working quite well."