Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his tumultuous tenure with the Trump administration not with a bang but a whimper. In a statement on Tuesday that came hours after he was apparently fired by Donald Trump via tweet, Tillerson offered up a short and dubious accounting of his achievements in office.
In shaky and seemingly emotional tones, Tillerson confirmed that Trump finally called him from Air Force One around noon, more than three full hours after the president tweeted that Tillerson was leaving and that CIA director Mike Pompeo was being nominated to replace him. He said he is formally stepping down on March 31.
Speaking down to the paper in front of him, Tillerson then launched into what he views as his achievements in office, including “exceed[ing] the expectations of almost everyone”—perhaps with one key omission in mind—with North Korea. Tillerson also lightly acknowledged his colossal failures, saying “there’s more to be done in Syria” and in “stabilizing Iraq,” an American project that’s been underway for nearly two decades.
All told, it was a fitting end to Tillerson’s time with Trump. The relationship that was, by nearly all accounts, riven with awkwardness, with the White House constantly undercutting Tillerson.
You may have assumed it couldn’t get more pathetic than Tillerson being forced to publicly insist that the president was smart after it was reported that he called Trump a “fucking moron.” But let me introduce you to this story from The Wall Street Journal, in which Trump forced his secretary of state to eat a shitty salad:
In a private room in China’s Great Hall of the People in November, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sat with President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials as their hosts delivered plates of wilted Caesar salad.
Mr. Trump, in the midst of a five-country tour of Asia, grew concerned the untouched greens would offend the Chinese, according to people familiar with the matter. So he ordered Mr. Tillerson to start. “Rex,” he said, “eat the salad.”
Rest is peace, Rex. May you find release in whatever lobbying or oil industry-adjacent job you find to massively enrich yourself next.