WASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declares he never considered resigning as President Donald Trump’s top diplomat, disputing what he called “erroneous” reports that he wanted to step down earlier this year.

Tillerson pointedly refused to say whether he had called the president a “moron.” But later he had a spokeswoman deny he had used such language.

Tillerson sought Wednesday to rebut a widely disseminated NBC News story that claimed Vice President Mike Pence had to talk him out of resigning over the summer, and that Tillerson had questioned Trump’s intelligence.

The explosive claims followed several instances in which Trump’s and Tillerson’s policy pronouncements have appeared to clash.

Trump told reporters on Wednesday he has “total confidence” in Tillerson. Earlier, Trump denounced the NBC report as “fake news.”

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)