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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  1. Swami  •  Mar 13, 2018 @12:22 pm

    Tillerson should be glad that Putin only fired him. That's the mildest reprimand that Putin imposes. Tillerson is fortunate that Putin didn't order his food seasoned with a dash of polonium.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Mar 13, 2018 @12:47 pm

    Rex's "fatigue" was probably caused by 'Trumpsillitis."

    Trumpsillitis is a exhausting disease caused by having to keep elevating the volume of your voice, trying to reach a narcissistic imbecile who is only interested in hearing what he himself has to say.

    tRUMP's tiny brain can only handle so much…  So, why confuse yourself by listening to others?  Especially smarter and more logical others.  If he tried to listen, the confusion might result in tragic consequence – for the whole world.

    So, remember:  'Don't ever confuse the stupid.'  

    A ficus plant is more intelligent and has a far longer attention span than Red America's President. 

  3. Tom_b  •  Mar 13, 2018 @1:04 pm

    No collusion at all. Nope. It’s a limited partnership with Puti, and Bone Spurs is the (very) junior (small-fingered) partner. Who probably can’t even make coffee.

  4. Bill  •  Mar 13, 2018 @2:25 pm

    With these people, when they say "drain the swamp", they're doing the opposite.

    Tillerson was predicted by anti-establishment types to be on his way out when the Rosneft-Exxon deal collapsed.  Public service, public schmervice – it's all about the money.

  5. Doug  •  Mar 13, 2018 @7:44 pm

    Rex did a lot of damage to State. His vision for US diplomacy was warped but he saw clearly that Trump is an idiot and never retracted. 

    It looks to me like Rex made money in Russia when he could but never sold his soul. More departures are predicted and I don't think quality will improve. 

  6. Strigiforms  •  Mar 13, 2018 @8:49 pm

    Trump tweeted his decision in the morning and afterwards said the decision was all his idea.  I don't doubt it. I am betting Trump made this decision right after seeing Fox cover Tillerson's remarks about Russia from the day before. He watched; he got enraged; he kicked Tillerson to the curb. For those who will buy into however Trump wants to explain this away as something other than being about Russia, they still have to face the fact that if had been about something else, Trump would have and could have waited a few days, to make it appear not to be about Russia. There was no pressing need to do this right now, unless, of course, this was all about Russia. 

  7. freetofu  •  Mar 13, 2018 @8:58 pm

    Somewhat off the topic at hand, but the mention of Chait's name here reminds me how glaring its absence was in "Elites on Free Speech: Shut the Bleep Up," seeing how often you cite him, since he basically takes the Fox News line on that subject.

  8. maha  •  Mar 14, 2018 @10:00 am

    freetofu — Unlike many people, I don’t tend to sort humanity into People Who Are Always Right and Must Be Agreed With and People Who Are Just Evil and Always Wrong. If I quote someone here, I am not saying “You must agree with this because this smart person said it.” I’m using the quote because I agree with that quote. Who said it is less important; I just like to attribute things. It’s the journalist in me. I am more than capable of agreeing with a person about some things and disagreeing with that same person about other things. It’s possible I have even agreed with David Brooks on occasion, although I cannot document that.

    I remember that Chait got slammed for saying things about political correctness about three years ago, and I mentioned it in passing about three years ago (at the end of this post). But I go through long stretches of time without reading Chait, and if he’s continued with the anti-PC crusade since then, I’m not aware of it. The post was about things being said in t he past few days.

  9. Procopius  •  Mar 14, 2018 @3:13 am

    I shouldn't, but I've just gotta say the speculation that Tillerson was fired because he agreed with Theresa May that Russia seemed to be responsible for the poisoning is not helpful. Now we may never find out the real reason. I mean, if Tillerson can get away for months with calling the Cheeto Mussolini a "fucking moron," why would a relatively tame yada yada that didn't even clearly say Russia was culpable anger Trump that much? Just saying he's clearly irrational isn't enough.

  10. maha  •  Mar 14, 2018 @10:10 am

    Procopius — Tillerson was pretty clear that the poison could only have come from Russia.

  11. Billikin  •  Mar 14, 2018 @5:10 am

    @ Procopius

    It's not that Tillerson angered Trump. It's that he pissed off Putin.

  12. Doug  •  Mar 14, 2018 @9:40 am

    Trump aslo fired the Number Four guy at State who contradicted Trump's account that the firing had been in the works. The lie about WHEN is directly related to WHY. If Trump made the decision in conjunction with a Fox news story it's a problem. (Love t see a wrongful termination suit and the public evidence.)Nobody at the US State Department works for Trump – they are all employees of the US taxpayers, a class of citizenry Trump doesn't belong to.

  13. paradoctor  •  Mar 14, 2018 @10:46 am

    1. Tillerson was on his way out anyhow. He couldn't get his terabuck Siberian oil deal, so there was no point to his staying there.

    2. What's annoying about Putin's style of murder is his lack of discretion. Polonium from a state lab? Russian nerve gas? In public?! How sloppy of him! Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue; and he's failing to pay his tribute!

  14. Gerald  •  Mar 14, 2018 @7:09 pm

    Tillerson is not out of the woods yet!

    I understand that he is a man of means too.

    Might want to beef up HIS security.

    Oh and watch what and where he eats and drinks!

    Please make no meantion … even in jest … of a "tell all" memoir of the going on's in THAT WH.

    Could be fatal to ones health!

  15. someofparts  •  Mar 15, 2018 @5:07 am


    So the Saudis, Bahrain, Eqypt and the  UAE blockade Qatar because they decline to provide the money Jared needed to paper over a bad real estate investment.

    "Tillerson was reportedly enraged. And he blamed one person for Trump’s support of the blockade: Jared Kushner. “Rex put two-and-two together,” his close associate told reporters, “and concluded that this absolutely vacuous kid was running a second foreign policy out of the White House family quarters.” "


  16. maha  •  Mar 15, 2018 @8:25 am

    someofparts, that makes no sense. The Kushner-Qatar thing was all over the news a couple of weeks ago. I even wrote about it. Firing Tillerson doesn’t do squat to protect Jared.