Former top US diplomat Rex Tillerson says the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner conducted diplomacy outside usual channels and left him to be blindsided by important developments, according to a transcript released Thursday.
The testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 21 highlights the powerful and unorthodox role Kushner has played in President Donald Trump's administration, as well as the challenges Tillerson faced during his rocky tenure as secretary of state.
Tillerson told the committee that Kushner would "make trips abroad and usually was in charge of his own agenda."
"It presents special challenges to everyone if others who are trying to effect foreign policy with a country and move the agenda forward are not fully aware of other conversations that are going on," he said.
Tillerson frequently found himself out of the loop during his time as secretary of state, including about the decision of Gulf countries to blockade Qatar — which Kushner knew was coming but did not inform him about.
The committee told Tillerson that Kushner and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon were informed about the blockade plans by the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at a dinner — which he did not know had taken place.
"It makes me angry," Tillerson said when asked for his reaction. "I didn't have a say. The State Department's views were never expressed."
In another instance, Mexico's foreign secretary was on a visit to Washington to meet with Kushner, but had not even informed Tillerson that he would be in town, he told the committee.
Tillerson happened to find out because he was at a restaurant where the foreign secretary was dining with Kushner, and the owner informed him.
"I walked back. And Mr Kushner, and I don't remember who else was at the table, and the foreign secretary were at the table having dinner," Tillerson said, recalling that he could "see the colour go out of the face of the foreign secretary of Mexico."
"I said, 'I don't want to interrupt what ya'll are doing.' I said, 'Give me a call next time you're coming to town.' And I left it at that."
Tillerson was frequently at odds with Trump during his time as secretary of state, which ended when the president fired him in March 2018.
Since leaving office, Tillerson has said that Trump was undisciplined and sometimes asked him to do things that were illegal.
Trump used Twitter to hit back, calling Tillerson "dumb as a rock."