With the possible exception of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, no Cabinet member has felt the withering scorn of President Donald Trump’s more than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Today, Trump put him out of his misery, leaving him flat-footed for good measure.
Just as he dispensed with his first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump used Twitter to lower the boom on Tillerson. The former ExxonMobil CEO has has rankled both the rank-and-file at Foggy Bottom and, seemingly from the get go, Trump.
The president said he would replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo — a plan that first made rounds months ago, before the New Year — another sign of Tillerson’s tortured Washington existence.
“The move was fraught with the miscommunications and contradictions that have characterized the relationship between Trump and Tillerson from the outset,” POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson reports. “While a White House aide said chief of staff Kelly told Tillerson on Friday that the president planned to dismiss him, Tillerson’s aides moved quickly to make clear that … (he) had been caught off guard.”
Inside the State Department, there was a tentative sense of relief, POLITICO’s Nahal Toosi reports. Tillerson was always viewed warily by the diplomatic corps and there was some hope that Pompeo’s tight relationship with Trump would strengthen Foggy Bottom’s sway. There were other immediate effects: Tillerson’s ouster could endanger the Iran nuclear deal, with Pompeo — an avowed hawk — taking the helm and potentially speeding along the dissolution of the agreement, POLITICO’s Michael Crowley reports.
Above it all was a bigger picture view: of Tillerson, a celebrated corporate leader, who never really adjusted to his new role both in Washington and serving Trump.
Elsewhere in President Trump’s orbit:
WHY THIS MATTIS: Defense Sec. James Mattis had a close ally in Tillerson — and will lose one — but also a weak partner who didn’t have much sway with Trump.
HAS NEVER HAPPENED: President Trump will nominate Gina Haspel to be the new director of the CIA. She would be the first woman, but she is a controversial figure because she ran a so-called “black site” prison in Thailand where detainees were subject to harsh interrogation techniques.
TARGETING BEIJING: President Trump ordered his aides to stiffen potential tariffs on China after aides targeted an initial $30 billion. Trump would like them to be higher.
SHULK UP?: The New York Times reports that President Trump is considering firing Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin and replacing him with Energy Sec. Rick Perry.
MARS BAR: President Trump promoted the idea of a military-style “space force” and predicted that the U.S. would reach Mars “very soon.”
JOHNNY ROCKETS: President Trump’s body guy, John McEntee, was abruptly escorted out of the White House today by security — as it was announced he would take on a role on Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
PAUL, CAST: A federal judge said that Paul Manafort stands a significant risk of spending the rest of his life in prison and said in an order made public today that the evidence against him seems strong.
EYE ON THE STORM: Democrats have largely avoided the topic of Stormy Daniels and President Trump’s relationship with the porn star — preferring to let it unfold on its own.
There you have it. You’re caught up on the Trump administration. That was Tuesday.