Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he is delegating all authorities as of today to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. Tillerson’s last day will officially be March 31.
— CNN (@CNN) March 13, 2018
As more conflicting details about State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s ousting were reported throughout the day on Tuesday, the businessman turned politico’s office surprised everyone by announcing that he would be addressing the press that afternoon. Sure enough, a few minutes after 2 in the afternoon, Tillerson took to the podium at the State Department’s press briefing room to deliver roughly eight minutes’ worth of prepared remarks — though he unsurprisingly skipped out on taking questions. Even so, as CNN (and many others covering the address) quickly noticed, Tillerson wasn’t exactly kind to his soon-to-be former boss.
For starters, the outgoing state secretary essentially confirmed the timeline of events previously announced by aide Steve Goldstein, who was promptly fired for contradicting the White House in a separate statement. “I received a call today from the President of the United States a little after noontime from Air Force One, and I’ve also spoken to Chief of Staff Kelly, to ensure that we have clarity as to the days ahead,” said Tillerson. “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.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s initial tweet about his decision to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo came just before 9 am ET — meaning a little over three hours had passed before the president’s phone call “a little after noontime.” To make matters worse, Trump told reporters soon after the new broke that the two of them “have been talking about this for a long time,” though he did admit that he “made that decision by myself.” A subsequent Washington Post report revealed the president decided to oust Tillerson last week and wanted to tweet about it on Friday, but Kelly convinced him to hold off.
Tillerson told reporters Deputy State Secretary John Sullivan would assume his regular duties beginning today. As for his official last day on the job, that would not arrive until Midnight on March 31st. Check out the full address below.