Third Party & Independents Archives

​They Came Not to Praise Tillerson But to Bury Him

Here’s what Buzzfeed’s John Hudson wrote on October 4 last year:

One U.S. official expressed confidence in Tillerson’s status due to a so-called “suicide pact” forged between Defense Secretary James Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Tillerson, whereby all three cabinet secretaries vow to leave in the event that the president makes moves against one of them.

Here's what State Department officials are now being quoted as saying, given that Tillerson has been fired will step down as Secretary of State within a day or two:

On Tillerson: hallelujah! according to The Daily Beast. Or this:

Tillerson kept a lot of the crazy in check and was obviously a moderating voice. But he never had the ear of [Trump], had a bad relationship with McMaster, and was a horrendous manager.

Here's what Wenona Hauter of Food and Water Watch - an environmental group opposed to Secretary Tillerson's run at State - said:

America's premier oil and gas booster should have no role in U.S. diplomacy at a time when we urgently need to transition off of fossil fuels.

Here's what President Trump said of Tillerson last October, when it was revealed by the Secretary of State that U.S. officials were talking to their North Korean counterparts:

Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!

Tillerson was isolated, clearly. Perhaps he had an ally in Mattis, who was one of the few who had genuinely warm praise for the Texas oilman running America's diplomatic corps. But his style and his attempts at restructuring the State Department earned him even more enemies than the countless platoons of disgruntled bureaucrats that just about every Trump Cabinet Secretary has had to deal with so far. And diplomats gonna talk. It's what they do. To the press especially, if they feel frustrated.

He was an odd choice, and conspiracy fans of the there-must-be-collusion kind, have a neat little story that has been leaked (by a still active Christopher Steele? Or perhaps John Brennan?) whereby Tillerson was picked over Romney because Putin asked Trump for the favor. Aside from the lack of any credible evidence, the problem is if you look at Tillerson's gruff pronouncements on Russia and his general stance on Putin's regime - the recent poisonings for example - he's been a hell of a lot less diplomatic than perhaps a Secretary Romney would have been.

We now have Pompeo moving from the CIA to State. He is apparently more in line with Trump's world view. We'll see, because we still have Jared Kushner with a fairly hefty foreign portfolio that strikes many as out of place. I suspect Pompeo - a veteran politician and a veteran of the Gulf War and a West Point graduate - will be much more skilled at containing Kushner, thanks in part to Chief of Staff Kelly's recent downgrades of Kushner's security clearance.

And to return to Buzfeed's so-called "suicide pact", for now it seems like a ridiculous rumor, floated by someone like Glenn Simpson through Fusion GPS and out to his many contacts in the media. Mnuchin and Mattis don't seem to be going anywhere. The real suicide - but of course it's not a suicide; it's more like a court martial - appears to be McMaster, as the rumor mill of his coming firing grows louder.

The problem is of course, Senate confirmation of Pompeo and any replacement of McMaster should Trump decide to dismiss him as well. It's hard to expect the Senate to speedily confirm either Pompeo or any possible replacement of McMaster. They should of course, but they won't. How can any Senator let a partisan opportunity like that go missing?

The State Department has been unsettled for over a year now. Don't expect any sudden settling down anytime soon.

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