Unceremoniously dumped

Next up in the Don-Rex news is the meta-story of how the firing really went down.

President Donald Trump unceremoniously dumped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by tweet on Tuesday and picked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to take his place, abruptly ending Tillerson’s turbulent tenure as America’s top diplomat and escalating the administration’s chaotic second-year shake-up.

Tillerson was ousted barely four hours after he returned from an Africa mission and with no face-to-face conversation with the president, the latest casualty of an unruly White House that has seen multiple top officials depart in recent weeks.

And, apparently, with no official notification: no letter, no phone call, no message sent by courier – only a tweet declaring the fact. A tweet. A tweet.

In an illustration of the gulf that has long separated Tillerson and Trump, the White House and the State Department vigorously disagreed about the circumstances of his firing.

Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein and other State Department officials said Tuesday morning that Tillerson hadn’t learned he was dismissed until he saw Trump’s early-morning tweet, and hadn’t discussed it directly with Trump. Goldstein said the former Exxon Mobil CEO was “unaware of the reason” he was fired and “had had every intention of staying.”

A tweet.

The president fired the secretary of state in a tweet.

A tweet.

Then Goldstein, hours after making those comments, was fired, too.

But, being an underling, he didn’t get even a tweet.

Multiple White House officials said that Tillerson had been informed of the decision Friday, while he was in Ethiopia. One official said chief of staff John Kelly had called Tillerson on Friday and again on Saturday to warn him that Trump was about to take imminent action if he did not resign and that a replacement had already been identified. Tillerson canceled his entire schedule that Saturday in Ethiopia, with the State Department telling reporters he was sick.

When Tillerson didn’t step aside, Trump fired him, that official said.

A distinction without a difference.

On Tillerson’s plane trip back from Africa, he had told reporters he had cut short his mission by one night because he was exhausted after working most of the night both Friday on Saturday and falling ill. He mentioned that after his 2:30 a.m. call with Trump on Friday about North Korea, the next night he “got another call at 2:30 that woke me up,” but declined to say what that call was about.

“I felt like, look, I just need to get back,” Tillerson said.

So that at least he wouldn’t be in Nigeria when The Tweet fell, having to buy his own plane ticket back.

Nothing to see here folks, don’t worry.

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