While an unending stream of reports have hinted at more significant staff turnover for the past few weeks, President Trump’s decision to fire State Secretary Rex Tillerson on Tuesday wasn’t all that surprising. The former ExxonMobil CEO’s potential ousting from the White House has been a topic of discussion for months, so when the presidential ax was finally swung on Twitter (of course), most in the media simply went about their business. According to The Daily Beast, however, a comment from Chief of Staff John Kelly suggests that the context in which Tillerson found out about his firing was far from normal.
According to three sources with knowledge of an off-the-record meeting that The Daily Beast was not invited (and therefore not beholden) to, Tillerson was on the toilet when Trump’s second chief of staff informed him of his future:
Tillerson, Kelly told the room, was suffering from a stomach bug during a diplomatic swing through Africa, and was using a toilet when Kelly broke the news to him.
Sources were stunned that, even in an off-record setting, Kelly would say this—to a room filled with White House officials and political reporters—about Tillerson, who does not officially leave the State Department until the end of the month.
A spokesperson for the state department claimed to have no knowledge of the conversation between Kelly and Tillerson. The White House, meanwhile, declined to comment at all when The Daily Beast reached out. Not that any of this matters, of course, for Twitter’s many journalists, pundits, and comedians couldn’t resist the bait.