President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday and said he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him, ending Tillerson's hard tenure by tweeting an ouster that had been long expected and yet was shocking in its abruptness.
The shake-up does not necessarily validate every detail of every report about Tillerson, but it does strike another blow to the credibility of Trump's "fake news" battle cry.
Tillerson leaves behind a short-lived and mixed legacy at the State Department, where he sometimes ran afoul of the White House and stoked criticism for his handling of the department.
Mr Trump tapped the CIA's deputy director, Gina Haspel, to replace Mr Pompeo at the intelligence agency.
The news broke just hours after Tillerson debarked from a plane from a weeklong trip to Africa. His political obituaries were already being written after Trump undermined him or sidelined him on several issues, including the Iran nuclear deal (which Tillerson supported). Trump wrote in his tweet. With Mike Pompeo we have a very similar thought process. If Tillerson was against the potential summit, and President Trump felt that he and Tillerson did not have the needed working relationship to make sure the president was ready for what could be the ultimate of meetings, then this paring had to be terminated - ASAP.
It also comes amid a dramatic diplomatic opening with North Korea, with Trump set to hold a historic meeting with leader Kim Jong Un in May. "President Trump has demonstrated yet again that he is the Commander-in-Chaos", said Sen. "The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve".
While some intelligence officers have said that Pompeo tends to tell Trump what he wants to hear rather than giving him their assessments, others say they have been impressed by his intellect, willingness to listen and advocacy of more robust covert operations. "A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well".
Mr Kelly did not tell Mr Tillerson when the tweet would be posted or what it might say, reports the news agency.
But over time, many lawmakers grew to appreciate Tillerson as a relatively steady hand in the chaotic Trump administration. Paid $27.3 million a year ago, Tillerson has accumulated roughly $160 million in Exxon stock along with $149 million of unvested stock options, according a proxy statement the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Tillerson is just the latest to step down in the Trump administration.
The White House distanced itself from those remarks, and a few days later, Tillerson himself backed off.
In fact, according to a report by Fox News, the president chose to make this decision ahead of the expected upcoming summit between him and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Things went steeply south when it was reported that Tillerson had called Trump a moron, a claim that the secretary of state did not directly refute.
Others include strategist Steve Bannon, national security adviser Michael Flynn, FBI Director James Comey, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, health secretary Tom Price, communications directors Hope Hicks and Anthony Scaramucci, economic adviser Gary Cohn and press secretary Sean Spicer. Rex is a very good man.