Trump hates telling people they’re fired—ask Rex Tillerson and James Comey

Somebody please tell Rex he is out.
Somebody please tell Rex he is out.
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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Donald Trump may have cemented international fame with his TV catchphrase “You’re fired,” yet he seems to hate using it in real life.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today (March 13) became the latest senior figure to be ousted, seemingly without an official notification. The White House has insisted that Trump asked Tillerson to go on March 9, but the State Department is telling a different story, with one source there telling CNN that Tillerson found out via Twitter. Even the department’s official statement was rather blunt:

“The secretary did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling,” said undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs Steve Goldstein. “The secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security. He will miss his colleagues at the Department of State and the foreign ministers he has worked with throughout the world.” Hours later, Goldstein was fired.

Tillerson is not the first to be unceremoniously dumped by this president. FBI director James Comey found out he had been sacked on TV while addressing agents in the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. Comey reportedly made a joke to ease the situation, then phoned FBI headquarters to find out that he had, indeed, been fired.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie was among the first high-profile Republicans to back Trump after abandoning his own 2016 presidential bid, and was nearly his pick to be vice president. But even Christie was booted from his role running Trump’s presidential transition team by proxy—he was given the message by Steve Bannon, the 2016 campaign manager who became Trump’s chief White House strategist. In 2017, Bannon was ousted in similar fashion, when he was told by Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly that he needed to resign.