He thanked his colleagues in the State Department. He thanked Defense Secretary James Mattis. He thanked the “300 million-plus” Americans. He thanked just about everyone.
Except President Donald Trump.
Rex Tillerson, who was abruptly ousted as secretary of state on Tuesday, did not mention Trump by name, just by title, in brief farewell remarks at the State Department.
Tillerson said he had received a call from “the president of the United States” at noon informing him of his dismissal. A senior State Department official told NBC News that Tillerson had learned of his firing when Trump tweeted the news hours earlier.
Much of Tillerson’s speech was a call to State Department officials to continue their work and to cooperate closely with other agencies and allies on issues such as stabilizing Iraq, defeating the Islamic State and improving relations with China.
Rex Tillerson delivers post-firing statement from the State Department
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“We all agree that U.S. leadership is diplomacy,” said Tillerson, who for months seemed out of the loop or in disagreement with the president on major foreign policy decisions. “Nothing is possible without allies and partners.”
Tillerson also had a parting shot for Russia.
“Much work remains to respond to the troubling behavior and actions on the part of the Russian government,” he said. “Russia must assess carefully as to how its actions are in the best interst of the Russian people and the world more broadly. Continuing on their current trajectory is likely to lead to greater isolation on their part, a situation which is not in anyone’s interest.”