Tillerson’s State Department confirmed to CNN that Tillerson says he was fired by Trump via tweet on Tuesday — reigniting speculation that Trump fired Tillerson over his Russia comments. The Washington Post has not retracted its story.
On Tuesday morning, the world found out that President Trump had fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The announcement wasn’t a major surprise — Trump had been at odds with Tillerson since the outset of his administration, and Tillerson had clearly been frustrated by his role. Trump routinely went around Tillerson to set foreign policy on everything from moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem to announcing North Korean policy (Trump even tweeted that Tillerson shouldn’t bother talking to the North Koreans).
But Tillerson’s firing on Tuesday stirred rumors that Trump had actually fired Tillerson because of Tillerson’s Monday comments regarding Russia. On Monday, Tillerson said that the murder of former spy Sergei Skripal in the U.K. “clearly came from Russia” and said it would “trigger a response”; the White House then walked that back, and Trump said today, “As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.”
This prompted media members to suggest that Trump actually fired Tillerson out of rage at Tillerson’s anti-Russia stance. That was always a silly suggestion — Trump was originally accused of collusion with Russia for nominating Tillerson, a Putin friendly, in the first place. Now it’s supposed collusion with Russia to fire him.
But, as it turns out, that’s all nonsense — at least according to The Washington Post. The Post reported that Trump told Tillerson he was out last Friday, meaning that Tillerson made Monday’s comments already knowing he was toast. That makes it likely that Tillerson actually used his harsh language as a final slap at Trump. But there is no evidence that Trump fired Tillerson over Tillerson’s supposedly staunch stance on Russia.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has developed a solid relationship with Trump, will replace Tillerson. He’s a far better fit for Secretary of State — he gives Trump intelligence briefings daily already, he’s far more hawkish on Iran than Tillerson was, and he’s far more pro-Israel than Tillerson was.