Rex Tillerson served almost 14 tumultuous months as secretary of State before President Trump announced his ouster Tuesday, nominating CIA Director Mike Pompeo for the job.
Even the goodbye was awkward.
"The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason" for his firing, a State Department spokesman said in a statement that fueled speculation Tillerson learned of his firing via a Trump tweet.
Tillerson had had "every intention of remaining" on the job, the statement said. Here are some reasons why he won't.
Tillerson fell short of denying reports that he called Trump a "moron" after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon. "I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that," he said at a news conference.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said he did not use "that type of language" to describe Trump. The president called the report "fake news."
“If he did, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win," Trump said.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
Trump, in discussing Tillerson's dismissal, cited a difference of opinion on the Iran nuclear deal. Tillerson backed keeping the U.S. in the landmark 2015 agreement between Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers. Trump has frequently blasted the deal as an "embarrassment" and has pledged to drop out unless it is "fixed."
Tillerson was committed to the deal, however, saying the U.S. would work with allies to address Trump's concerns.
"We disagreed on things," Trump said Tuesday. "You look at the Iran deal. I think it's terrible, I guess he felt it was OK. I wanted to break it, he felt differently."
Trump announced last week that he had accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. Tillerson, who was in Africa at the time, admitted he was not involved in the White House discussions leading up to the decision.
Yet Trump in the past frequently chided Tillerson for his attempts to open lines of communication with North Korea. “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," Trump tweeted in October.
In one of his final acts, Tillerson spoke with British officials about the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Julia. Tillerson issued a statement expressing "full confidence" in the U.K.'s assessment that Russia was likely responsible.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, condemned the attack but repeatedly declined to link Russia to the incident. "We are standing with our U.K. ally,” Sanders said. “I think they’re still working through even some of the details of that.”
Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week that a controversial plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will happen "quickly." Tillerson, perhaps in an effort to ease tensions prompted by the decision last year, had said the move was at least three years away.
Protesters throughout the Muslim world took to the streets after the plan was first announced last year. Thousands of Palestinians held demonstrations and clashed with Israeli security forces at about 30 locations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. World leaders also expressed disappointment with the decision.
“It’s not going to be anything that happens right away,” Tillerson said in December. “Probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious.”
A look at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT
Tillerson was in favor of staying in the historic climate change agreement to curb global emissions, but Trump opted to pull out June 1. Tillerson later told senators he still supported the accord and had pushed to keep the U.S. in it. "My view didn't change," Tillerson said on June 13.
In September, Tillerson said U.S. participation in the Paris agreement could resume under new terms.
“The president said he is open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue,” Tillerson told CBS’ Face the Nation.
THE STATE DEPARTMENT
Tillerson has struggled to staff his department amid steep budget cuts. Tillerson drew criticism for dubious efforts to reshape what he determined was a bloated bureaucracy. Dozens of ambassadorships remain unfilled, and 60% of top-ranking career diplomats have left, according to the American Foreign Service Association. New applications to join the Foreign Service are also down sharply.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., joined from across the aisle to send a letter in November expressing concern for low morale in the department. His staffing decisions, they said in November, "threaten to undermine the long-term health and effectiveness of American diplomacy."