Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave an emotional farewell speech Tuesday morning where he thanked his staff and the American people…but left one glaring omission…Donald Trump.
Tillerson praised State Department officials and Department of Defense staff for their work during his tenure, while also thanking members of the military and the American people.
But Tillerson didn’t mention Trump by name, only referring once to the president.
“I received a call today from the president of the United States a little after noon time from Air Force One, and I’ve also spoken to White House Chief of Staff Kelly to ensure we have clarity about the days ahead,” Tillerson said. “What is most important is to ensure an orderly and smooth transition during a time that the country continues to face significant policy and national security challenges.”
Tillerson also took a parting shot at Russia, saying “much work remains to respond to the troubling behavior and actions on the part of the Russian government.”
“Russia must assess carefully as to how its actions are in the best interests of the Russian people and of the world more broadly,” he added. “Continuing on their current trajectory is likely to lead to greater isolation on their part, a situation which is not in anyone’s interest.”
Trump has faced criticism for his muted criticisms of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin after the U.S. intelligence community determined Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
The Trump administration has not implemented sanctions against Russia that overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Congress last year.
Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that he had removed Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a surprise announcement.
Trump is nominating Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s current deputy, to lead the CIA.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Trump told reporters Tuesday morning that he made the decision “by myself,” signaling he did not speak with Tillerson before firing him.
“I actually got along great with Rex, but really, it was a different mindset,” Trump said from the White House.
Tillerson did not take questions from reporters.
He said his term as the nation’s top diplomat will end at midnight on March 31. Until then, Tillerson is delegating his responsibilities to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
WATCH: Tillerson says he received a call from Trump around noon today informing him of the president's decision to replace him with CIA Director Pompeo pic.twitter.com/MZi8P8CbMF
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 13, 2018