So barely 24 hours after Rex Tillerson summoned up the backbone to finally criticize Putin, Trump summarily canned him, without even personally speaking to him.
Even though his firing is hardly a surprise to others (the New York Times predicted it two months ago), it was apparently a surprise to Tillerson. In an unusually candid statement, the State Department through its spokesman Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said,
The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning 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 and not to be regretted,” Goldstein said in a statement.
Goldstein also said that Tillerson had “every intention of staying” before his firing.
“He established and enjoyed relationships with his counterparts. He will miss his colleagues at the Department of State and enjoyed working together with the Department of Defense in an uncommonly robust relationship,” he said.
“We wish Secretary Designate Pompeo well,” the statement concluded, referring to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, whom Trump tapped to succeed Tillerson.
Articles are flowing in, none perhaps as brutal as this one from Daniel Drezner headlined:
Five thoughts about the firing of Rex Tillerson: A political eulogy for the most incompetent Secretary of State in modern history.
Just to give you a taste, here’s #3 on Drezner’s list:
3) Tillerson’s legacy will be as one of the most ineffective secretaries of state in modern history. Spoiler Alerts has written a fair amount about Tillerson’s incompetence and ineffectiveness as secretary of state. He was so incompetent that I called for him to resign in August. I would wager that everything I said in that column holds with even greater force today. His influence within the administration waned over time. His proposed redesign of the State Department was botched, and botched badly. His incompetent management of Foggy Bottom helped trigger an exodus of seasoned Foreign Service officers and crushed morale among the remaining diplomats. It seemed as though he could not visit a region without saying something that offended his hosts. There is no signature idea or doctrine or accomplishment that Tillerson can point to as part of his legacy. He was woefully unprepared for the job on Day One and barely moved down the learning curve. His incompetence undercut his ability to advance any worthwhile policy instinct.
This New York Times article details many of the problems Tillerson had, and how badly he dealt with them.
Twitter is agog, though many spotted the “coincidence” between Tillerson speaking out and his disgraceful firing.
Rex Tillerson was fired, because he attacked Russia. Yesterday he blamed them for the gas attack in the UK. Trump refused to even name Russia, because he’s probably being blackmailed by Putin. Trump hasn’t even implemented sanctions, he’s still colluding. #TrumpColluded
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 13, 2018
Trump just fired Rex Tillerson immediately after the Secretary of State called out Russia – https://t.co/Qb6i6iCNVw
— shondi99 (@shondi99) March 13, 2018
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) March 13, 2018
Here’s the statement that probably got Tillerson fired:
NEW: Sec. of State Tillerson said "Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens" in statement on spy poisoning https://t.co/hSdepo6Wl5 pic.twitter.com/xuKPkAGvcO
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 12, 2018
And a kind voice.
Rex Tillerson: The worst Secretary of State ever – and I am really going to miss him. In the Trump Madhouse, he was a voice of sanity on big issues like trade & Russia.
— Thomas L. Friedman (@tomfriedman) March 13, 2018
The bottom line is that Rex Tillerson sold his soul for nothing. He leaves a weakened Department of State with his reputation in shreds.
Breaking: The AP reports Trump just fired the State Dept employee who revealed that Tillerson did not know of the firing.
BREAKING: Officials: White House fires top Tillerson aide who contradicted account of secretary of state's dismissal.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 13, 2018
Looks like it’s Goldstein, the guy who issued the frank statement reported above.
NEWS, LEAVING WITH TILLERSON –> two sources say White House just recently called Under Secretary Steve Goldstein to tell him he is no longer needed. Goldstein was then called up to Tillerson's office for a meeting. @StateDept
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) March 13, 2018
Also, another critic of Putin has just been found dead in Great Britain, according to the Telegraph.