Pence denies reports he convinced Tillerson to stay on as secretary of state

Vice President Mike Pence denied reports that he convinced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to remain in the administration following an impromptu Wednesday morning press briefing in which Tillerson also denied the reports.

"At no time did he and the Secretary ever discuss the prospect of the Secretary's resignation from the administration," Pence's deputy chief of staff Jarrod Agen said of Pence in a Wednesday statement. "Any reporting to the contrary is categorically false."

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Vice President Mike Pence through the years
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Vice President Mike Pence through the years

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., Derek Karachner, Ian Slatter, Molly Jurmu, Mark Ahearn.

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Mike Pence, R-Ind., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., talk during the markup of the bill which would establish the Department of Homeland Security.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

(L-R) Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), attorney Floyd Abrams, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and attorney Kenneth Starr speak to reporters in the U.S. Supreme Court Plaza in Washington, D.C., September 8, 2003. Attorneys made arguments during a special session of the Supreme Court about the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign financing reform law.

(REUTERS/Stefan Zaklin)

Rep. Mike Pence, new head of the Republican conservative caucus, taken in his Hill office. Includes a bust of Ronald Reagan.

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) and Indiana Governor Mike Pence (L) wave to the crowd before addressing the crowd during a campaign stop at the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield, Indiana, July 12, 2016.

(REUTERS/John Sommers II)

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 07: Mike Pence, R-Ind.

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MEET THE PRESS

Pictured: Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) left, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010.

(Photo by William B. Plowman/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence arrives at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 13, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

President-elect Donald Trump takes the stage with Vice President-elect Mike Pence during a rally in Orlando, Fla., on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016.

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Vice President-elect Mike Pence arrives at Trump Tower on December 15, 2016 in New York City. President-Elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings with potential members of his cabinet at his office.

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Tim Kaine, 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, left, and Mike Pence, 2016 Republican vice presidential nominee, speak during the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine arrive at tonight's debate with three main assignments: defend their bosses from attack, try to land a few blows, and avoid any mistakes showing them unfit to be president.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (R) as his wife Karen Pence holds the Bible, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.

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Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler Group LLC and Fiat SpA, left, speaks with Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, at the Chrysler Group transmission plant in Kokomo, Indiana, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker majority owned by Fiat SpA, will invest about $374 million and add 1,250 jobs at Indiana factories to boost output of eight-and nine-speed transmissions.

(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - JULY 25: Mike Pence--IND

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Reps. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., left, and Mike Pence, R-Ind, share a laugh at a rally to support a House resolution, scheduled for a vote Thursday, that would require a list of earmarks and the names of lawmakers sponsoring them to be contained in committee and conference reports. The rally took place on Cannon Terrace.

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US Republican Representative from Indiana Mike Pence, gestures as he speaks during a press conference at the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, 01 April 2007. Pence and a group of US Congressmen are on a visit to the war-torn country.

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Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., makes marks on the House health care bill as House Republicans gathered in the House Republicans Reading Room in the Longworth House Office Building on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009.

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U.S. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) speaks during a rally on Capitol Hill April 6, 2011 in Washington, DC. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), thought to be a contender for the 2012 presidential race, also spoke at the rally held on Capitol Hill by Americans for Prosperity in support of spending cuts.

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House Budget chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., speaks with Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., as they arrive for a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the basement of the U.S. Capitol on Monday, July 25, 2011.

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence is seen at the 2015 IPL 500 Festival Parade on May 23, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) while Vice President Mike Pence (C) looks on during a luncheon at the Congress of Tomorrow Republican Member Retreat January 26, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Congressional Republicans are gathering for three days to plan their 2017 legislative agenda.

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US Vice President Mike Pence and Karen Pence dance during the Liberty ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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From left, First Lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, Major General Bradley Becker, Vice President Mike Pence, and his wife Karen Pence review the troops following the swearing in of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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Agen also denied the veracity of a claim made by Tillerson's top spokesman, R.C. Hammond, to NBC News that Pence had questioned the value of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley's contributions to the administration.

"The Vice President has known Ambassador Nikki Haley for many years, holds her in the highest regard, and appreciates her strong service to this administration at the United Nations," Agen said.

During an impromptu press briefing on Wednesday, Tillerson denied recent reports that he had ever considered leaving the administration and that Pence had urged him to remain.

"The vice president has never had to persuade me to stay as secretary of state because I have never considered leaving this post," he said. "There's never been a consideration in my mind to leave."

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Rex Tillerson through his career
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Rex Tillerson through his career

Exxon Mobil Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Rex Tillerson speaks at a news conference following the Exxon Mobil annual shareholders meeting in Dallas, Texas May 30, 2007. Tillerson told reporters on Wednesday that the construction of the Mackenzie pipeline project in Canada was not viable at current cost levels.

(REUTERS/Mike Stone)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson look on at a signing ceremony in the Black Sea resort of Sochi August 30, 2011. Exxon and Russia's Rosneft signed a deal on Tuesday to develop oil and gas reserves in the Russian Arctic, opening up one of the last unconquered drilling frontiers to the global industry No.1.

(REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool)

Executives from six major oil companies are sworn in to testify at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the "Consolidation in the Oil and Gas Industry: Raising Prices?" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 14, 2006. The executives are (L-R) Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corp., James Mulva, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, David O'Reilly, Chairman and CEO of Chevron Corp., Bill Klesse, CEO of Valero Energy Corp., John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil Company and Ross Pillari, President and CEO of BP America Inc.

(Jason Reed / Reuters)

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson speaks during the IHS CERAWeek 2015 energy conference in Houston, Texas April 21, 2015.

(REUTERS/Daniel Kramer/File Photo)

Chairman, President and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation Rex Tillerson watches a tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club course in Pebble Beach, California, February 6, 2014.

(REUTERS/Michael Fiala)

Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil; John Watson, chairman and CEO of Chevron Corp.; James Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Co.; and Lamar McKay, president and chairman of BP America Inc.; are sworn in during the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing on their safety practices as oil continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig - operated by BP - exploded last month.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson speaks during the IHS CERAWeek 2015 energy conference in Houston, Texas April 21, 2015.

(REUTERS/Daniel Kramer/File Photo)

WASHINGTON, DC - May 12: James Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; and Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp.; during the Senate Finance hearing on oil and gas tax incentives.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation Rex W. Tillerson and Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg attends the United Nations Foundation's global leadership dinner at The Pierre Hotel on November 8, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson, chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp., left, speaks with Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates Inc., during the 2015 IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. CERAWeek 2015, in its 34th year, will provide new insights and critically-important dialogue with decision-makers in the oil and gas, electric power, coal, renewables, and nuclear sectors from around the world.

(Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Renda St. Clair and Rex Tillerson attend the reopening celebration at Ford's Theatre on February 11, 2009 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Abby Brack/Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, listens during a meeting at the Department of the Interior September 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. Secretary of the Interior Kenneth L. Salazar hosted Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Gulf Oil Spill National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen (Ret.), representatives from the private sector and others to discus strengthening the containment abilities to deep water oil and gas well blowouts like the recent BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

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Both before and after Tillerson's press conference, Trump slammed the NBC report on Twitter.

"NBC news is #FakeNews and more dishonest than even CNN," Trump tweeted before Tillerson spoke. "They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!"

After the press conference, Trump said in another tweet that Tillerson had denied the NBC report.

"The @NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec. Tillerson and @VP Pence," he tweeted. "It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!"

An NBC News spokeswoman told Business Insider on Wednesday that the news organization stands by its reporting. Political reporter Carol Lee said on Wednesday that she and her NBC colleagues "extensively reported" the story, speaking with a dozen sources.

These reports come after months of rumored tensions between the president and his secretary of state.

On Sunday, Trump publicly undermined Tillerson's efforts to negotiate with the North Korean government. Just a day after Tillerson told reporters in Beijing that he had a direct line of communication open with Pyongyang over North Korea's nuclear tests, Trump said diplomacy with the rogue nation was useless.

"I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," the president tweeted, using his nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!"

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SEE ALSO: Tillerson dismisses reports that he considered resigning, says Trump is 'smart' but doesn't deny calling him a 'moron' in wild press conference

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