Hours after finding out he was fired via a tweet by President Donald Trump, outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed the nation in a seemingly emotional farewell press conference on Tuesday wherein he did not thank the president directly for the appointment.
Tillerson’s voice trembled while delivering the speech at the State Department on Tuesday, explaining that he received a call from Trump at around noon informing him of the changes — hours after the president publicly stated on Twitter that the former chief executive of ExxonMobil would be replaced by the current director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo.
He added that he plans to ensure a smooth transition at the State Department and that his last day will be March 31.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Tillerson thanked his department staff for being “extraordinarily dedicated to our mission” and also reminded those in Washington, whether “career employee or political appointee,” that all are bound by the Oath of Office and commitment to the Constitution.
“We are all bound by that common commitment: to support and defend the Constitution. To bear true faith and allegiance to the same. And to faithfully discharge the duties of our office,” he said. “As a State Department, we’re bound together by that oath.
“The world needs selfless leaders like these,” he added. “Ready to work with longstanding allies, new emerging partners, and allies who now, many are struggling as democracies and in some cases are dealing with human tragedy, crisis of natural disasters, literally crawling themselves out of those circumstances.”
Many on Twitter were quick to point out the tone of the speech and the fact that while Tillerson issued a general “thank you” for the opportunity to serve the country, he did not specifically address the president, whom he has reportedly had a rocky relationship with leading up to Tuesday’s firing.
Pretty big omission of thanks for the president from ousted-secy of state Tillerson.
— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) March 13, 2018
tillerson sounds like he’s either about to cry or about to scream or about to have a heart attack
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) March 13, 2018
Tillerson did not thank Trump for appointing him or praise Trump’s leadership in his statement just now.
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) March 13, 2018
One name not mentioned so far by Tillerson: Trump.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) March 13, 2018
Following the news that Trump would replace Tillerson with Pompeo, the president said it came down to his relationship with the CIA director. “I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture,” Trump said.
“[Pompeo’s] experience in the military, Congress, and as leader of the CIA have prepared him well for his new role and I urge his swift confirmation.”