Rex Tillerson learned of firing from Trump’s tweet
As the nation reels from the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, we’ve gotten a horrifying little bit of insight into how the firing went down. It appears that Tillerson found out he was out of a job when Trump tweeted out the news.
Trump’s tweet hit the web at 8:44 a.m., just as the first news reports about the firing were published.
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
It didn’t take long for the reports to circulate that Tillerson found out about the firing via this very tweet, just like everyone else, with multiple outlets, including Fox News, NBC, and CNN reporting that tidbit based off a statement from a State Department official.
I am told Tillerson found out he was fired from Trump’s tweet.
This morning. Knew there was tension but was not going to quit and did not know he was fired
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) March 13, 2018
The Associated Press’s State Department reporter, Josh Lederman, who was on a plane returning from Africa with Tillerson, indicated no one on board knew this was coming.
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
As usual, when you factor in the White House’s version of events, the timeline gets a bit squiffy. CNN reported a White House source said that Tillerson had been asked to resign on Friday while on a State Department trip to Africa. Tillerson cut short the trip, returning to the U.S. to reportedly “deal with urgent work in Washington.”
Others have since suggested that Tillerson’s statement on the poisoning of a Russian diplomat that was more acute than anything the White House has said was because he already knew he was being fired.
Whatever the case — and lord knows if we’ll ever get any clarity — it’s worth remembering that when then-FBI Director James Comey was infamously fired, he learned about it by seeing the news on television and originally thought it was a prank.
As for Trump, after the tweet, he departed the White House for California but, briefly speaking to reporters, suggested that, hey, it’s all for the best and that Rex is gonna be fine!
It’s a brave new world, everyone, so if you ever work in Trump’s White House, keep your DMs open. You don’t want to miss anything.