Rex Tillerson, the Texas oil man who has served as President Trump’s secretary of state since February 2017, has been fired.
“Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
Trump later told The Associated Press that the decision to fire Tillerson was his own, adding that the ousted secretary of state will be “much happier now.”
Speaking to reporters at the State Department later on Tuesday, Tillerson said he will remain in the post until midnight on March 31. In that time, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will handle the transition to Tillerson’s replacement, current CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
He thanked his staff, diplomats and even America as a whole. He did not thank President Trump.
“I’ll now return to private life as a private citizen,” he said. “As a proud American, I’m proud of the opportunity I’ve had to serve my country.”
Tillerson and Trump have reportedly been on the outs for months. Last July, he reportedly called the president “a f***ing moron,” something Tillerson has neither confirmed nor denied.
It’s unclear when Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, was fired. White House officials have said that he was notified of his departure Friday.
But Tillerson, 65, who only landed in Washington D.C., early Tuesday morning after a trip to Africa, was reportedly unaware that he was being removed until he saw Trump’s tweet, according to NBC News.
A top State Department aide who contradicted the White House’s account of Tillerson’s ouster was additionally fired, The AP reported.
Speculation about Tillerson’s departure has been rampant for the last few months. In December, Trump tweeted that those rumors were “FAKE NEWS,” and said that he and Tillerson work well together despite disagreeing “on certain subjects.”
“We were not really thinking the same,” Trump told reporters at the White House, explaining his decision to replace Mr. Tillerson.
He added: “Really, it was a different mind-set, a different thinking.”
Gina Haspel has been appointed as CIA boss to replace Pompeo, and if confirmed, will be the first woman to serve in the role.
Her past is a mysterious one. She has worked for the CIA for 33 years, mostly as an undercover operative in some dangerous countries.
Former CIA Director John Brennan had high praise for Haspel.
“Gina has a lot of integrity,” Brennan said Tuesday. “She has tried to carry out her duties to the best of her ability, even when asked to do some difficult things.