Mar 13, 2018, 3:06 PM ET

Tillerson still secretary of state for now: White House

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After being fired by the president this morning, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that he will remain at his post until March 31st and hand all responsibilities of the office to his deputy by the end of the day.

"Effective at the end of the day, I'm delegating all responsibilities of the office of the secretary to deputy secretary of state [John] Sullivan," Tillerson said. "My commission as secretary of state will terminate at midnight March 31st."

In the immediate aftermath of the President's Donald Trump's surprise decision to fire Rex Tillerson, the White House and State Department appeared to be at odds over a basic question: Who is currently the secretary of state?

Despite his very public dismissal, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told ABC News earlier Tuesday that Tillerson would remain as Secretary "during a transition period."

Over at the State Department, a senior State Department official, when asked to confirm that Tillerson is still serving as secretary, said the press office was checking. Tillerson has since clarified that he is staying until the end of March.

Trump announced this morning via Twitter that he was replacing Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Upon learning of Tillerson's termination, Under Secretary of State for Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein released a statement saying the secretary "had every intention of staying," that he was "unaware of the reason" for his firing, and that he had not spoken to the president.

Hours later, the White House fired Goldstein as well.

A senior State Department official said Tillerson learned of the president's official decision from Trump's tweet and that he was never informed directly by the White House.

Two White House officials say White House chief of staff John Kelly informed Tillerson on Friday that he was being asked to step down.

Tillerson's dismissal marks the seventh high-profile departure from the White House this year alone.

Last week, Trump's chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, quit, as did his communications director and long-time aide Hope Hicks the week before.

"I'll now return to private life, as a private citizen, as a proud American, proud of the opportunity I've had to serve my country," Tillerson said, before leaving the podium at the State Department.

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  • John Law

    CNN headline yesterday: "Tillerson goes farther than White House, condemns Russia for UK nerve agent attack"...and today Trump fired Rex on twitter. Funny how the MSM like ABC and NBC neglected to mention that tidbit. Yep, Putin owns Trump.

  • John Michael Davis

    He's still SoS even after being fired? Aren't they afraid he'll steal ink pens and stuff?

  • Johnny Sanchez

    Trump is the best President ever!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Flint Covey

    I think we should wait until after the elections to put up any nominees so the American people can have a chance to speak.

  • error_does not compute

    Upon learning of Tillerson's termination, Under Secretary of State for Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein released a statement saying the secretary "had every intention of staying," that he was "unaware of the reason" for his firing, and that he had not spoken to the president.

    Hours later, the White House fired Goldstein as well. --- Trump is in a firing frenzy. He still thinks hes on "The Apprentice"

  • Thomas Robinson

    Rereading the speeches by JFK, RFK and MLK re inspires us on what our country should be like. I dare all to read them again.

  • Primo Veritas

    OMG Publicly fire and humiliate a man. Who by the way was probably the most effective person in Trump's lack of administration. Then expect him to keep the job for now? When is the GOP going to stop Trump from shaming himself, them and the nation?

  • James Coletrane

    Tillerson is like the stapler guy from Office Space

  • Prophet With Honor

    I was "fired" three times in my life, twice I said I was going back to work and the bluff worked. One time I went quietly and spent 6 months getting my ex-boss fired.

  • M Blen Gee Jr

    The transition that I would like to see is from Donald Trump to somebody else, even Pence.

  • Billy Bob Smith

    Holy hell, Trump doesn't even know how to fire someone! I thought that's all he was good at? If you fire someone, they're gone that day. Period. #WhiteHouseDolt

  • James Coletrane

    Tillerson can't leave until Trump brings back his testes from CA.

  • virgillionhere

    The Congressman who called this a "GOAT RODEO" last year was spot on

  • dustyrivers ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Wow! Just watched Tillerson give his final speech at Sec. or State. Not a "fine moment" for the Trump Administration.

    Hopefully Tillerson will eventually get the Trump "stench" off himself.

    Unfortunately it looks like the last adult has left the White House.
    .

  • empirewacksback

    Tillerson held hostage - Day 1

  • pksk531

    Tillerson should make a very public display of walking out with a box and then go to CNN and MSNBC and spill the beans - admit he called Turnip a moron.

  • Red Hawk

    Does this Administration have any idea what they are doing? Sanders at this point has no credibility with anybody but the Lemmings

  • BD70

    Not too much communication going on there. Oh wait...there isn't anybody handling that.

  • Blue Wave

    So is he fired or isn't he??? Can Trump and Sarah EVER be on the same page??

  • Verity Pendelton

    The whole thing is a bad reality TV show. Such a joke.

  • lavendula38

    This ship is doomed!!!!

  • Prophet With Honor

    Abbot & Costello :

    Who's on First ?

  • eeriesponsiple

    Firing Goldstein too shows the malicious nature of this WH and the ongoing effort to muzzle through fear of firing.

  • Bronx

    I hope The Senate refuses to confirm Pompeo. There are better to be had. A lot better.

    Trump should go crawling on his hands and feet to Mrs Clinton or to Condi Rice, maybe to Kerry, maybe even to Mrs. Albright if she is well enough-------- forget the partisan crap. There's no room for it
    in State or the DOD.

    Get someone who knows what they are doing and what that job requires.

  • SGNH

    And Trump expects foreign governments will believe anything Tillerson says during this transition? He already has made clear his disdain of him.

  • JDC1

    How was this a surprise firing? There are media reports for over a year that a source has a source close to the WH that heard that Tillerson was on his way out.

  • John Michael Davis

    And they fired Tillerson's aide after he stated that Tillerson learned of the dismissal via Trump's tweet. Interesting.

  • virgillionhere

    Trump is just being Trump. What I can't wrap my head around is the number of people who think things are going swell in his presidency.

    CNBC stooges tried to argue he was having a boffo first year because he barely managed to squeeze in the debt busting tax cut.
    Smh