A pool reporter who was on the plane with Secretary of State Tillerson hours before he was fired says there is “open revolt” between Trump and the State Department.
“The White House and the State Department are now in essentially open revolt over who exactly fired the Secretary of State when” Associated Press reporter Josh Lederman who covers Tillerson and was accompanying him on an official flight said everything seemed fine that morning told Powerhouse Politics podcast.
“The fact that this was imminent, that he was going to step off his airplane after jetting across Africa on Trump’s behalf for a week, within four hours be fired by tweet, was something that we had no sense of,” Lederman said.
Pool via Getty ImagesSecretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives to a news conference with President Donald Trump and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the East Room of the White House, March 6, 2018 in Washington.
President Trump’s firing of his Secretary of State Tuesday morning took reporters by surprise, plunging an already chaotic White House into more turmoil.
Immediately after Trump’s decision, the State Department and the White House seemed to disagree on who was the current Secretary of State.
When asked by ABC News if Tillerson was still serving as secretary, a State Department official said the press office had to check.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tillerson would serve as secretary “during a transition period.”
Trump ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo
ABC NewsSecretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks from the State Department in Washington, March 13, 2018.
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Tillerson will keep his cabinet title until the end of March; and if confirmed by the Senate, CIA Director Mike Pompeo will take his place.
This could mean a major shift in foreign policy.
“The biggest change will be to Iran policy. That’s where you really see the biggest gulf between the general approach of Tillerson and the general approach of Pompeo,” Lederman said.
In the meantime, Tillerson, appears headed back to private life.
Most wouldn’t characterize Tillerson as the conventional Secretary of State, considering his business background and his approach to the role as top U.S. diplomat.
But Lederman explains this is not the reason Trump fired him.
“Trump did not fire him because he wanted him to be like John Kerry. Trump fired him because he tried to push Trump to do things that he didn’t want to do,” Lederman said, citing the Iran deal and the Paris Climate agreement.