- The State Department said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was informed of his own firing by President Donald Trump’s Tuesday morning tweet announcing the news.
- The secretary said that he was “unaware of the reason” for his firing, which he did not discuss with Trump before the president announced his ouster on Tuesday morning.
- “The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security,” Under-Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said in a statement.
The State Department said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was informed of his own firing by President Donald Trump’s Tuesday morning tweet announcing the news.
The secretary said that he was “unaware of the reason” for his firing, which he said he did not discuss with President Donald Trump before Trump announced his ouster on Tuesday morning.
“The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security,” Under-Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said in a statement. “The Secretary did not speak to the President 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.”
Trump told reporters on the White House lawn on Tuesday morning that he did not discuss his decision with Tillerson, but said that the two had “talked about this for a long time.”
“I didn’t discuss it very much with him,” Trump said. “I made that decision by myself.”
The president said that while he personally likes Tillerson and got along “quite well” with him, the two disagreed on important policy issues, including the Iran nuclear deal negotiated under President Barack Obama, and had “different mindsets.”
“We got along, actually, quite well, but we disagree on a lot of things,” Trump said of Tillerson. “When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible. He thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently.”
Trump added, “I think Rex will be much happier now, but I really appreciate his service.”
CIA Director Mike Pompeo will replace Tillerson. The CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, will succeed Pompeo, becoming the first woman to lead the agency.
The Washington Post first reported the news on Tuesday morning, shortly before Trump confirmed it via a tweet.
“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State,” the president 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!”
Tillerson was on a diplomatic trip in Africa, which he cut short to return to Washington on Monday. AP reporter Josh Lederman tweeted that there was “zero indication” on the flight back to the US, which Lederman and other reporters accompanied Tillerson on, that the secretary’s firing was “imminent.”
The firing comes the day after Tillerson publicly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling the Kremlin “an irresponsible force of instability in the world” following an alleged nerve agent attack in Britain likely perpetrated by Russia.
Tillerson had faced reports of tension with Trump for months, and repeatedly denied that he was leaving his job.