President Donald Trump reportedly clashed in the early days of his administration with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over rolling back a law prohibiting bribery of foreign officials.
Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig have a new book about the Trump presidency, “A Very Stable Genius,” based on hundreds of hours of interviews with more than 200 sources, and much of it backed by documentary evidence.
The book reports that Trump was single-mindedly focused on meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin during the presidential transition, and interrupted an interview with one candidate for secretary of state to ask if he could meet Putin face to face before his inauguration.
Trump and Putin finally did meet in summer 2017 at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, and suddenly the president considered himself more of an expert on Russia than Tillerson — who’d done Exxon corporate business with Russia for decades.
The president also clashed in spring 2017 with his secretary of state, who apparently refused to help Trump get rid of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibiting U.S. firms and individuals from bribing foreign officials for business deals.
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump said, according to the book. “We’re going to change that.”
Trump was frustrated by the 1977 law, which remains on the books, because it prevented his company’s executives and his business associates from paying off foreign governments to make deals overseas, the reporters wrote.