Rex Tillerson on Tuesday became the latest White House staffer to be fired by President Trump — and the secretary of state reportedly found out about his ousting the same way we all did: on Twitter.
Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that he was replacing Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who in turn would be replaced by Gina Haspel.
“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!” Trump tweeted. “Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!”
The State Department confirmed to CNN that Tillerson found out he was fired from Trump’s tweet. Two other sources told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan the same thing.
WOW! The State Department now confirms to @CNN’s @eliselabottcnn that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson found out he was fired from President Trump’s tweet.
— Javi Morgado (@javimorgado) March 13, 2018
Two sources tell me that Secretary of State Tillerson learned of his dismissal when the public did – via tweet. NOTABLE: @POTUS mentions Iran as a point of difference with Rex during impromptu remarks at WH.
— margaret brennan (@margbrennan) March 13, 2018
In a statement to CBS News, State Department Under Secretary Steve Goldstein said Tillerson “had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security.”
“He will miss his colleagues at the the Department of State and the foreign ministers he has worked with throughout the world,” Goldstein added.
Brennan said Goldstein also told her, “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.”
“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.” –@UnderSecPD
— margaret brennan (@margbrennan) March 13, 2018
According to The Washington Post, Trump first asked the secretary of state to step aside on Friday, prompting Tillerson to cut short a trip to Africa to return to Washington, D.C., on Monday.
A senior White House official told Politico that Trump wanted a new team in place before he sits down with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May. Trump shocked many around the world when he abruptly announced last week that he would be the first president in history to meet with a sitting North Korean leader.
Tillerson spoke briefly about North Korea during a press conference in Nigeria on Monday, but gave no indication that it would impact his job, per Politico. Instead, he told reporters that U.S. officials had not yet heard any direct response from North Korea regarding Trump accepting their invitation, and said plans for the meeting are “in the very early stages.”
The news seemed to blindside Tillerson’s inner circle at the State Department, with one official, reached for comment as news broke, saying only, “Wow. I’ll have to call you back.”
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
Tillerson, the former head of ExxonMobil, has had a complicated relationship with the president since he took the job following Trump’s inauguration last year. Last fall, Tillerson made headlines after he reportedly called the president a “f—— moron” in a meeting. Afterwards, he hastily arranged a press conference at the State Department to reaffirm his commitment to Trump, and notably declined to address the comments specifically.
Trump later commented on the “moron” report, and offered to compare IQ tests with Tillerson.
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“I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests,” he said. “And I can tell you who is going to win.”
Trump spoke to reporters Tuesday shortly after tweeting news of Tillerson’s surprise departure, and acknowledged the two did not always see eye to eye.
WATCH: Pres. Trump speaks to reporters after announcing Tillerson replacement. https://t.co/7Y8KnK4Txr
— ABC News (@ABC) March 13, 2018
“Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things,” he said, noting the Iran deal in particular.
Trump added that he and Pompeo have a more “similar thought process” and that he thinks their working relationship is “going to go very well.”
Tillerson’s ouster is the latest in a long line of resignations and firings within the Trump administration. Thirteen days ago, Trump’s communications director, Hope Hicks, handed in her resignation. A source told PEOPLE at the time that “she had enough.”
The Wall Street Journal also reported Tuesday that Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was also fired this week due to an unspecified security issue, and escorted out of the White House on Monday. A lesser known aide, the Journal reports McEntee’s duties included delivering messages to Trump in the White House residence, making sure clocks were set correctly and that he had markers for autographs.
When reached for comment, White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters told PEOPLE the White House does “not comment on personnel matters.”
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported that McEntee was fired “because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes.”
Citing a source familiar with McEntee’s firing, Collins added that the charges are reportedly “not Trump related.”
NEWS: Johnny McEntee was fired because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes, a source familiar with his firing tells CNN.
This source says the charges are not Trump related.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) March 13, 2018
Despite the abrupt departure, the Trump reelection campaign announced Tuesday that McEntee would be joining as a senior advisor, according to The Hill. McEntee initially joined the Trump campaign three years ago.