March 13, 2018 7:52 am -

Trump just gave Rex Tillerson the boot.

President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate negotiations with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday.

Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside [while he was in Africa acting in his capacity as Secretary of State], and the embattled top diplomat cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.

Per CBS, the official statement from the White House reads:

“[I] want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service.  A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well.”

Nice use of passive voice there, Uncle Dotard!

There were very public differences between the two, and they continued into the last several days. For example, on the poisoning with military-grade nerve gas of a former Russian agent in England, Trump said nothing. In strong contrast,

Tillerson said the attack was a “really egregious act.” At that point, the secretary said it was not clear whether the Russian government itself was behind the attack or whether it was a non-state actor.  … “There is never a justification for this type of attack — the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation — and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior,” Tillerson said in the statement. “From Ukraine to Syria — and now the U.K. — 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.”

NBC News had more from Tillerson, who, according to Andrea Mitchell in a phone call to MSNBC’s Stephanie , gave an uncharacteristically “unbuttoned’ interview to the press on the plane trip back from his African visit, not betraying a clue that he was out the door:

“It’s almost beyond comprehension that a state, an organized state, would do something like that,” he said while traveling aboard a U.S. airplane during a trip to Africa. “A non-state actor, I could understand. A state actor — I cannot understand why anyone would take such an action,” he said.

Asked if the poisoning will trigger a mutual defense response with the close NATO ally, Tillerson said that “it certainly will trigger a response. I’ll leave it at that.”

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, author David Ignatius said it was clear Trump “never felt really comfortable” with Tillerson and “humiliated” Tillerson by, for example, saying he would meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. He also pointed out, as others have observed, that Pompeo is “aligned” with Trump on foreign policy. Andrea Mitchell noted that Tillerson conducted himself in a traditionally diplomatic manner, and she was struck by the fact that Tillerson sounded very much in line with British PM Theresa May regarding the British nerve gas attack whereas Trump’s press flack Sarah Sanders did not.

Meanwhile, there was this news from The Wall Street Journal:

President Donald Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was escorted out of the White House on Monday, two senior administration officials said. The cause of the firing was an unspecified security issue, said a third White House official with knowledge of the situation.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to comment saying, “We don’t comment on personnel issues.” McEntee didn’t return a call seeking comment.

McEntee was one of the longest-serving aides to Trump, dating back to the earliest days of the campaign when some of the only aides around the then-candidate included Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser; Stephen Miller, the president’s policy director; White House communications director Hope Hicks, who announced her resignation two weeks ago; and Dan Scavino, who is the White House director of social media.

Mr. McEntee was removed from the White House grounds on Monday afternoon without being allowed to collect his belongings, a White House official said. He left without his jacket, a second White House official said.


Well, Pompeo is in the saddle. Get ready for “interesting times,” kids.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.