Donald Trump tweeted today that Rex Tillerson will no longer be serving as Secretary of State and will be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. However, according to State Department Under Secretary Steve Goldstein, Tillerson didn't find out about his removal from the president and it appears that he may have heard the news through Trump's tweet. "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," Goldstein said in a statement. Tillerson just returned from a week-long trip in Africa and the New York Times reports that there had been no sign that Tillerson was set to be fired while he was on that trip. This isn't the first time a Trump-appointed official has found out about their removal through an announcement rather than a conversation with the president. Ex-FBI Director James Comey reportedly thought he was being pranked when he learned about his firing through the news last year.
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
According to CNN, Tillerson was informed by Chief of Staff John Kelly last week that he would be replaced, though Tillerson wasn't given a timeframe for that transition. Trump and Tillerson have continuously butted heads throughout Tillerson's time as Secretary of State with their policy disagreements including how to respond to North Korea, the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal and Russian interference in the presidential election. Tillerson also came under fire for reports that he had called Trump a moron. Meanwhile, the president has been criticized for publicly undermining Secretary Tillerson.
In his tweet, Trump also said that Gina Haspel, the current deputy director of the CIA, will take over for Pompeo. Both will need to be confirmed by the Senate.
Trump's use of Twitter is quite different from President Obama's and while many have questioned the content of his tweets and how they impact national interests in the past, some are now calling out his use of the platform to fire high-level officials.
James Comey found out about his firing via cable news. Tillerson reportedly found out about his ouster via Twitter. Will the next one come about via Snapchat Stories? Instagram DM? Venmo payment message?? https://t.co/a3Ozksr3ap— Rachel King (@rachelking) March 13, 2018