Tillerson’s firing the latest messy breakup
Published 7:56 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018
WASHINGTON — The man who famously coined the reality TV mantra “You’re fired!” has notched quite a record of awkward and messy breakups in his 14 months as president.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson via Twitter. It was hours later before the president picked up the phone to talk directly to his latest casualty.
Despite his signature catchphrase, Trump often lets others in the White House do his dirty work or pushes out subordinates by tweet or through public shaming.
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Onetime chief of staff Reince Priebus learned he was being replaced by John Kelly last summer from Twitter. The president tweeted the news from Air Force One following a trip to New York — prompting the outgoing chief of staff to drive off in a black SUV, leaving the rest of the presidential motorcade behind in a driving rainstorm.
Perhaps Trump’s most consequential firing came last May, when he dismissed FBI Director James Comey. Rather than informing Comey in person or by phone, Trump sent his longtime bodyguard-turned-director of Oval Office operations Keith Schiller to the Justice Department to deliver a letter notifying the FBI head he was done.
But Comey was in a Los Angeles meeting with FBI agents at the time and only learned of his dismissal from TV. Comey said last year in testimony before Congress that his ouster caught him by surprise and criticized Trump for saying the bureau was in disarray.
Onetime communications director Anthony Scaramucci, hired over Priebus’ objections, only lasted 10 days in the White House last summer before being pushed out after giving an expletive-laced interview to The New Yorker in which he called Priebus a “paranoid schizophrenic.”
Scaramucci’s hiring prompted press secretary Sean Spicer to quit after a six-month run that included a string of public slights by Trump, including the president excluding the devout Roman Catholic from a meeting with the pope during a trip to the Vatican.
More recently, Trump left it to Kelly to force staff secretary Rob Porter to resign after he was accused of emotional and physical abuse by his two ex-wives. Porter has denied harming his former spouses.
Kelly helped push out a number of other top aides, including top strategist Steve Bannon, national security aide Sebastian Gorka and public liaison communications director Omarosa Manigault Newman. She had earlier appeared on Trump’s reality TV show, “The Apprentice.”
Back on TV after her White House gig, Manigault Newman recently warned on “Celebrity Big Brother” that the U.S. would “not be OK” under Trump, prompting White House spokesman Raj Shah to respond: “Omarosa was fired three times on ‘The Apprentice.’ And this was the fourth time we let her go.”