Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired Tuesday morning, did not speak to Donald Trump before his firing and was “unaware” of the reason behind his dismissal, according to a statement from Tillerson’s top deputy.
A statement released bby the Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein strongly suggests Tillerson found out about his firing from Twitter — though it differs from published accounts of the decision citing unnamed White House sources.
“The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling and not to be regretted,” Goldstein said in a statement.
Goldstein also said that Tillerson had “every intention of staying” before his firing.
“He established and enjoyed relationships with his counterparts. He will miss his colleagues at the Department of State and enjoyed working together with the Department of Defense in an uncommonly robust relationship,” he said.
“We wish Secretary Designate Pompeo well,” the statement concluded, referring to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, whom Trump tapped to succeed Tillerson.
WOW: Tillerson had "every intention of staying… did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason," according to Under Sec of State Goldstein. pic.twitter.com/3i4PDIE4fT
— Conor Finnegan (@cjf39) March 13, 2018
Trump removed Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo in a move that stunned Washington with its timing.
Trump is nominating Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s current deputy, to lead the CIA.
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.
Those comments belied the fact that Trump and Tillerson had repeatedly clashed, most famously when the secretary of State reportedly referred to Trump in private as a “moron.” The report clearly got under Trump’s skin, and the president responded by challenging Tillerson to an IQ test.
Trump tweeted the news of the staff changes shortly after Tillerson’s firing was first reported by The Washington Post.
“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State,” Trump tweeted.
“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!”
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