Rex Tillerson wasn’t the only State Department official to lose his job on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump has also fired Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein, according to the Associated Press.
BREAKING: Officials: White House fires top Tillerson aide who contradicted account of secretary of state's dismissal.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 13, 2018
After the news that Tillerson had been ousted as Secretary of State, it was reported that he found out about his own firing when Trump announced it on Twitter, and had not spoken to the president about his position previously. This contradicted a White House statement claiming that Chief of Staff John Kelly had told Tillerson on Friday that he was being fired.
This report that Tillerson was caught off guard — journalists traveling with Tillerson said he did not make any indication he was being fired — was made by Goldstein, who remarked that Tillerson had “every intention of staying” in his role as the nation’s top diplomat prior to his firing.
“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,” Goldstein had said.
The White House fired Goldstein hours after he made the contradictory announcement.
Trump on Tuesday said he had made the decision to replace his top diplomat on his own and that Tillerson would be “much happier now.”
The move added to the long list of staff and cabinet departures from the Trump administration so far, but also highlighted a deep divide between the White House and the State Department.
Tillerson broke with the White House this past week by saying that the poisoning of an ex-spy in the UK “came from Russia.”
Tillerson had also publicly distanced himself from Trump’s cowtowing to white supremacists after the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA last year and Trump later tweeted that Tillerson was “wasting his time” in negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs — something Trump is now preparing to engage in himself.
“Save your energy, Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!” Trump had tweeted at the time.
…Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2017
Trump has appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo to fill Tillerson’s role and Deputy Director Gina Haspel to take Pompeo’s place at the CIA.