Just hours after his very public firing Tuesday, an emotional Secretary of State Rex Tillerson came to the State Department briefing room to tell his side of the story, saying he had received a call shortly after noon from the president aboard Air Force One, and had spoken as well with White House chief of staff John Kelly.
He did not otherwise mention or thank President Donald Trump.
Tillerson first learned he was being dismissed when Trump tweeted this morning that he was nominating CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his new secretary of state.
Tillerson said it was most important to ensure a “smooth and orderly transition” for Pompeo.
He said he was delegating all his responsibilities to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan effective at the end of the day Tuesday and that his commission as secretary of state would terminate at midnight March 31.
Tillerson had just returned from Africa Monday night after cutting his trip short.
Tillerson pointed to progress on North Korea and Syria as some of his accomplishments and thanked his State Department colleagues for the “privilege” of serving with them.
“I’ll now return to private life, as a private citizen, as a proud American, proud of the opportunity I’ve had to have serve my country,” Tillerson said, leaving the room without taking questions.