Inside Rex Tillerson's final days as secretary of state

Inside Rex Tillerson's final days as secretary of state

Just hours after his very public firing Tuesday, an emotional Secretary of State Rex Tillerson came to the State Department briefing room to tell his side of the story, saying he had received a call shortly after noon from the president aboard Air Force One, and had spoken as well with White House chief of staff John Kelly.

"What is most important is to ensure an orderly and smooth transition during a time that the country continues to face significant policy and national security challenges", he said.

He did not otherwise mention or thank President Donald Trump. The two clashed especially heavily over North Korea, with Trump putting military action on the table and Tillerson aiming for a diplomatic solution.

In October, NBC news reported that Tillerson called the president a "moron," something Tillerson never actually denied.

A State Department official who revealed that Tillerson learned of his firing through Twitter was also fired today.

October 4, 2017 - Tillerson tells reporters he is not considering leaving his post following reports that he had referred to Trump as a "moron". He and Tillerson weren't the only folks to lose their jobs in Washington on Tuesday.

March 8, 2018 - Tillerson says during a visit to Ethiopia that the U.S is not ready for direct talks with North Korea.

Rep. Ron Estes, who replaced Pompeo in Congress, said in a statement, "With increasing threats overseas from a belligerent Russian Federation and Islamist terrorism, it's vitally important that we have someone like Mike, who has extensive private sector and military experience, to serve as our top diplomat".

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Trump has pursued isolationist "America first" policies and was often at odds with Tillerson, who pushed for greater worldwide cooperation.

"I think this is something Donald Trump is more comfortable with, although he doesn't really understand it", he said.

"There's no question [that] this administration, when it comes to nominations, has been treated much more harshly than any administration in anybody's memory", McConnell said in response to a question at a news conference on Tuesday.

"We want to make it perfecto", he said.

The prime minister described Central Intelligence Agency director Mr Pompeo as a great friend of Australia who was already well-known to the government. Trump has also publicly criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation. "And that was a total mystery because the people at the State Department would work for the devil if he is advancing American interests, which Mr. Tillerson was".

"I've always, right from the beginning, from day one, I've gotten along well with Mike Pompeo", he said. "I think that's the best way to handle it".

Evans Revere, a former senior United States diplomat who dealt with North Korea under President George W Bush, said Trump's move sends "a bad signal about the role of diplomacy".

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