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President Trump challenges his own secretary of state to compare "IQ tests"

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Donald Trump's feud with top diplomat Rex Tillerson burst back into the open on Tuesday, with the US President suggesting he and his Secretary of State compare IQ scores.

The White House has repeatedly smacked down NBC's reporting on Tillerson, with Trump repeatedly calling it "fake news" on Twitter.

"I want to at least hold on to some of the traditions we have in this country about respecting the office even if at times I think the president struggles with that", she said.

Trump's latest comment underscores the volatility of the Trump-Tillerson relationship, despite the fact that the secretary of state told reporters last week that he plans to stay in the administration as long as the President will have him.

Both Pence and Tillerson have rejected the allegations. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert later said Tillerson does not use such language.

"The White House has become an adult day care center", Senator Bob Corker declared at the weekend, in an astonishing public rebuke from a Republican who campaigned for Trump and chairs the Senate foreign relations committee. "And I can tell you who is going to win", Trump told Forbes. "I'm not undermining. I think I'm actually strengthening authority".

The report came just days after Tillerson said the USA had direct lines of communication with North Korea to deescalate the nuclear crisis only to have Trump dismiss the efforts on Twitter.

Now Trump says he still has confidence in his secretary of state and did not intend to "undercut" him when he questioned his intelligence level. "They should issue an apology to AMERICA!"

The lunch comes a week after NBC, CNN and other news outlets reported that Tillerson had referred to the President as a "moron" at the Pentagon this summer. "They just made it up". "Totally undercut, completely ineffective as secretary of state". The president repeated his contention that the secretary of state was "wasting his time" talking to the North Koreans but denies that making these comments softened Tillerson's bargaining position.