On March 13th Rex Tillerson, the U.S Secretary of State, was fired by President Trump through the social network Twitter. Using his famed media account, Donald Trump announced this with a tweet stating “Mike Pompeo, Director of 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. Congratulation to all!”
According to Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein, Tillerson said that there was no communication between himself and Trump and that firing was sudden to him, and that he had “every intention of remaining.” Just hours after the tweet was posted, Goldstein himself was fired. Contrary to Tillerson’s statements, President Trump said that “Rex and I have been talking about this a long time.” Trump also stated that “We were not really thinking the same . . .With Mike Pompeo, we have a similar thought process.” This included a short remark saying the he and Mark Pompeo are “on the same wavelength” and that “the relationship has always been very good and that is what I need.”
To make the matter even more of a complicated conflict, Trump tweeted in December saying “The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon – FAKE NEWS! He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!”, which conflicts directly with the statements of members of the White House, who said that they had been planning for months on replacing Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo. When asked why he decided to act now, President Trump said he “thought it was the right time for the transition with the upcoming North Korea talks and various trade negotiations,” according to a senior administration official.
Aside from the way in which Tillerson was fired, the context of the situation is what shocked many across the country. In January, after the Syrian chlorine-gas attacks, Tillerson expressed his opinion, saying that “Russia’s failure to resolve the chemical weapons issue in Syria calls into question its relevance to the resolution of the overall crisis,” essentially placing the blame of the event on Russia. This also followed the many scandals and speculations of Donald Trump being helped by Russia to win the presidential election, making the situation seem even more suspicious than it had before. If the situation wasn’t absurd enough, Donald Trump didn’t directly inform Rex Tillerson that he was fired until hours after the rest of the world knew.
The tension between President Trump and former Secretary of State Tillerson is not a new development, however, with information leaking all the way back in October 2017, revealing that Rex Tillerson had called Mr. Trump a “moron” while at the Pentagon that previous summer. In a separate event, when Tillerson began negotiations with North Korea, Trump released a duo of tweets stating “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…” and “…Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!” Trump repeatedly expressed the differences between himself and Rex Tillerson on separate occasions, and a private source stated that Trump felt as if Tillerson did not back him up or support him.
Within the same day, Rex Tillerson released a response to his firing, starting with “I received a call today from the president of the United States a little after noontime from Air Force One, and I’ve spoken to Chief of Staff Kelly.” He stated that his “commission as secretary of state will terminate at midnight March 31.” He continued his statement expressing how important it is that what he had started must be continued, helping solve the issues dealing with “…the safety and security of State Department personnel, accountability, which means treating each other with honesty and integrity and respect for one another. Most recently, in particular, to address challenges of sexual harassment within the department.” He continued to thank his allies in office, the soldiers of the U.S., and other “allies and partners” within the governments of other countries. He concluded his response, stating “I’ll now return to private life, as a private citizen, as a proud American, proud of the opportunity I had to serve my country. God bless all of you. God bless the American people.”
by Angelo Reis