Rex Tillerson Fired as Secretary of State the Day After Calling Out the Russians
Though there have been rumors for months and months that Rex Tillerson would eventually be pushed out or resign as Secretary of State, there have been no indications of late that his resignation/firing was imminent. But he is out, according to President Trump:
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
Odd timing considering that just yesterday, Tillerson called out Russia and suggested — before the White House would do so — that Russia had been responsible for the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain, a claim that Russia denied. Sarah Sanders also refused to point the finger at Russia.
From the Associated Press:
Tillerson, echoing the British government’s finger-pointing toward Moscow, said he didn’t yet know whether Russia’s government knew of the attack with a military-grade nerve agent, but that one way or another, “it came from Russia.” He said it was “almost beyond comprehension” why a state actor would deploy such a dangerous substance in a public place in a foreign country where others could be exposed.
“I cannot understand why anyone would take such an action. But this is a substance that is known to us and does not exist widely,” Tillerson told reporters as he flew from Nigeria to Washington. “It is only in the hands of a very, very limited number of parties.”
“Instead what we’ve seen is a pivot on their part to be more aggressive,” Tillerson said. “And this is very, very concerning to me and others that there seems to be a certain unleashing of activity that we don’t fully understand what the objective behind that is.”
He said if the poisoning turned out to be the work of Russia’s government, “this is a pretty serious action.”
“It certainly will trigger a response. I’ll leave it at that,” Tillerson said.
The Washington Post, however, notes that Trump asked for Tillerson’s resignation last Friday.
Trump and Tillerson have been at odds for months. So why fire him now? Sources close to Trump say it was clear Tillerson didn’t support him. Tillerson wanted to handle foreign policy his own way, without him. Trump didn’t feel that Tillerson backed him.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) March 13, 2018
We got off the plane with Tillerson less than four hours ago. There was zero indication on flight home that this was imminent.— Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) March 13, 2018
And according to a statement released by Tillerson, he had every intention of staying:
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
Did he get fired via Twitter?
Omg. A State Dept official says Tillerson learned he was fired from Trump's tweet, per @CNN— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) March 13, 2018
WH saying Tillerson was informed Friday, but State Dept statement today seems to indicate he just found out today. Which *really* makes one wonder about the role of the Russia statement yesterday.— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 13, 2018
Also, we should note that Mike Pompeo has to be confirmed by the Senate before he can become Secretary of State.
In other news, Trump also apparently fired his longtime personal assistant, John McEntee, over an unspecified security issue. He was escorted out of the White House, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Mr. McEntee was removed from the White House grounds on Monday afternoon without being allowed to collect his belongings, a White House official said. He left without his jacket, a second White House official said.” https://t.co/1XADWxDKkQ— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 13, 2018
No chaos, huh, Trump?
There is no Chaos, only great Energy! pic.twitter.com/d5lnyFSWIm— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) March 13, 2018