Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, March 13th, 2018.

Putin Fires Tillerson

Trump Maladministration

Seriously, does it get more bare-assed than this? This was Rex Tillerson, yesterday.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response.”

Tillerson says he doesn’t know whether Russia’s government had knowledge of the poisoning. But he is arguing the poison couldn’t have originated anywhere else. He says the substance is known to the U.S. and doesn’t exist widely. He says it’s “only in the hands of a very, very limited number of parties.”

Tillerson calls the poisoning “a really egregious act” and says it’s “almost beyond comprehension” that a state actor would use such a dangerous substance in a public place.

But he says he won’t elaborate on what response might follow.

This interview took place while Tillerson was returning from Nigeria to Washington, and I’m not sure exactly when Tillerson left Africa. But I believe it was yesterday late afternoon or evening.

The British Evening Standard ran this news story 14 hours ago, and I’m not sure when Tillerson said this, but it may have been before he got on the plane —

“There is never a justification for this type of attack, the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation, and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior. We have full confidence in the UK’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible for the nerve agent attack that took place in Salisbury last week. There is never a justification for this type of attack – the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation – and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior. From Ukraine to Syria – and now the UK – Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.”

Three hours ago, Trump tweeted this.

According to several news stories (such as), this tweet amounted to Tillerson’s pink slip. This is how Trump fired Tillerson. Well, Putin hired Tillerson, so I guess he might as well fire him, too.

The one event from yesterday that doesn’t fit the timeline is the bullshit announcement from the House Intelligence Committee that there was “no collusion” with Russia and the investigation was ending. This came as a surprise to the Democrats on the committee.  This appears to have happened before Tillerson went rogue and criticized Russia. However, if Tillerson had informed the White House what he was going to say before he said it, one might think the House Republicans were ordered to issue a report to cover Trump’s ass.

Charles Pierce, after noting that Tillerson in recent weeks had missed appointments because of “fatigue,” said:

The official line from Camp Runamuck was that the president* shuffled Tillerson out for cause, leaving the rest of us to recall what Tillerson had said about the poisoning of the Skirpals. However, the Post also has reported that Tillerson knew he’d been fired on the previous Friday, so what the hell did he have to lose by speaking his mind on Monday?

If that was the case, they kept it damned quiet. Maybe, but one of Tillerson’s deputies has told the Associated Press that the Secretary was caught by surprise and learned about his dismissal when the president* tweeted about it on Tuesday morning. (Jesus, you wouldn’t run a gas station this way.) In any event, they had a health-related out, and they declined to use it. Graceless is as graceless does. This was defenestration, pure and simple.

I seriously doubt that Tillerson knew he’d been fired on Friday. He was supposed to have still been in Africa today, actually, but canceled today’s appointments yesterday because, he said, he had to attend to something in Washington.

Tillerson was a really bad Secretary of State, but I fear Mike Pompeo will be much, much worse.

Update: This is probably unrelated:

President Donald Trump’s longtime personal aide John McEntee was fired because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes, a source familiar with his firing told CNN.

The charges are not related to the President, the source said.
Minutes after news of his departure broke, the Trump campaign announced McEntee would be joining the reelection effort as a senior adviser for campaign operations.
McEntee was escorted out of the White House suddenly, without being given a chance even to retrieve his coat. This seems weird, considering he’d been working at the White House all along without a security clearance, but all of a sudden he was so “hot” he had to be booted out immediately.
Update: David Frum connects the dots.  So does Jonathan Chait. Trump and Mouth of Sauron Sarah Sanders both refuse to say that Russia had anything to do with the poisoning of the ex-spy.
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