Why was Rex Tillerson fired?
It’s the question everyone is asking. Tillerson was relieved of his duties as Secretary of State early Tuesday. Donald Trump announced via Twitter that former U.S. Representative and CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be nominated to fill the position.
Tillerson served as Secretary of State for little more than a year and ruffled Trump’s feathers. He disagreed with the president fairly often, particularly when it came to North Korea, and was reported to refer to the president as a “moron.” But amid rumors of tension back in December, Trump tweeted that Tillerson’s job was safe.
The timing of the firing is conspicuous. It comes a day after Tillerson affirmed Moscow’s responsibility for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom. His statement was taken as a sign that the administration was toughening up its Russian rhetoric.
It didn’t take long for Twitter users to start connecting dots.
Yesterday. Tillerson responds forcefully to Russian nerve agent attack in UK. Today. Tillerson fired.
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) March 13, 2018
The British interpretation https://t.co/0lFvi0Qq4r
— Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) March 13, 2018
Reports surfaced that the decision was made while Tillerson was in Africa, but according the Associated Press’s Josh Gondelman, there was no sign of the dismissal when they returned from the trip.
We got off the plane with Tillerson less than four hours ago. There was zero indication on flight home that this was imminent.
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) March 13, 2018
Multiple outlets have reported that Tillerson learned he was fired via Twitter. His social media pink slip seems like strong proof he was blindsided. If Trump knew he was firing Tillerson two days ago, why did he wait?
Russia collusion fever is a contagious Twitter superbug. When you buy into Russia collusion theory, every news story out of the Trump administration seems like proof that Donald Trump is puppeteered by Putin. Tillerson’s firing seems like another fever dream. But there seems to be real substance here. We’d be wrong to readily dismiss it.
People in power, particularly those in opposition to Trump, should explore whether Tillerson’s statements on Russia prompted his firing. With Trump’s history of placating Putin and Russia, the timing is certainly questionable. Democrats shouldn’t passively accept this turn of events. They should investigate what caused it.
Oh, what’s that? A new tweet from Chuck Schumer? Terrific! Looks like that’s exactly what’s happen—
The instability of this administration in just about every area weakens America.
If he’s confirmed, we hope that Mr. Pompeo will turn over a new leaf and will start toughening up our policies towards Russia and Putin.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 13, 2018