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Video Was Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson's Firing A Long Time Coming? | Andrea Mitchell | MSNBC

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18:14   |   12/15/2018 at 23:02

Transcription

  • but now I don't really
  • breaking news after months of policy
  • disagreements over the Iran nuclear deal
  • Russia tariffs and North Korea the
  • president fires his secretary of state
  • who had early warnings but only finds
  • out about it from a crop tweet this
  • morning Rex and I have been talking
  • about this for a long time we we've got
  • along actually quite well but we
  • disagreed on things so we were not
  • really thinking the same the CIA
  • director Mike Pompeo a trump favorite is
  • the president's choice to become the
  • nation's top diplomat tremendous energy
  • tremendous intellect we're always on the
  • same wavelength
  • the relationship has been very good and
  • that's what I need as Secretary of State
  • and good day everyone I'm Andrea
  • Mitchell with the stunning news today
  • the President Trump has fired his
  • Secretary of State at a critical time
  • for u.s. foreign policy Rex Tillerson is
  • out as the nation's top diplomat
  • shocking America's closest allies as the
  • president heads into historic talks with
  • North Korea threatens to withdraw from
  • the Iran nuclear deal and says he
  • welcomes a trade war mr. Trump
  • explaining the reasons behind this
  • massive shake up from the South Lawn
  • today I wish well I'm really at a point
  • where we're getting very close to having
  • the cabinet and other things that I want
  • as far as Rex Tillerson is concerned I
  • very much appreciate his commitment that
  • is service and I wish him well he's a
  • good man
  • we were not really thinking the same
  • with Mike Mike Pompeo we have a very
  • similar thought process I think it's
  • going to go very well
  • I actually got along well with Rex but
  • really it was a different mindset it was
  • a different thinking joining me now is
  • NBC national correspondent Peter
  • Alexander at the White House MSNBC
  • political analyst and Washington Post
  • White House bureau chief Phil Rucker who
  • broke the story this morning Washington
  • Post columnist David Ignatius New York
  • Times State Department correspondent
  • Gagner Gardner Harris who was just on
  • the plane with Rex Tillerson coming back
  • early this morning from Africa and on
  • that whole seven-day trip an NBC
  • national political reporter Carol Lee
  • Phil record let's go first to you
  • because you and your team broke the
  • story the surprising announcement today
  • that despite all of their tensions for a
  • year more than a year that Rex Tillerson
  • was fired on Twitter yeah well Andrea
  • it's interesting there seems to be some
  • conflicting information because the
  • White House is telling us that chief of
  • staff John Kelly actually called
  • Tillerson overnight in the wee hours
  • Saturday in Africa woke him up from his
  • sleep to tell him that you know that his
  • job was in jeopardy that he ought to get
  • back to Washington right away we're
  • still trying to sort out exactly what
  • that conversation was about but
  • Tillerson if he didn't know until this
  • morning that he was going to be fired
  • definitively he at least to the
  • have some indication that this was
  • coming that things were not going well
  • in the relationship with the president
  • well Gardner Harris you were on the
  • plane with Rex Tillerson who had an
  • unusually we thought candid briefing and
  • extraordinary briefing on the flight
  • between Abuja Nigeria and refueling in
  • Cape Verde you landed in Cape Verde
  • around 6:30 Eastern time last night and
  • we got the transcript from you and your
  • colleagues our colleague Abigail
  • Williams was the pool producer on all of
  • that his state of mind as he talked to
  • you very openly about being the point
  • person setting up the upcoming career
  • talks he did he look Phil and I are
  • getting the same information you know
  • the White House people are sort of
  • telling us look Kelly called him Kelly
  • gave him a heads-up the State Department
  • people are telling us telogen didn't
  • really get that message I think what
  • what we are hearing Kelley told him is
  • you're gonna get a tweet but you know
  • there's a lot of people in this
  • administration jeff sessions among them
  • who get tweets that are critical and
  • Tillerson sort of felt like he I think
  • he'd been here before that he would
  • weather this storm like he had weathered
  • others so yes Andrea you're exactly
  • right he I was on the plane with him if
  • he knew that he was about to be fired he
  • is the coolest customer I've ever known
  • he spoke to us about his plans for
  • diplomacy going forward he then got off
  • the plane at at Cape Verde was very
  • jocular laughing with his chief of staff
  • Margaret Peter Lynn who by the way is
  • also being fired today there was no
  • sense of grim foreboding in that group
  • whatsoever and as you said what one
  • thing that we are also hearing though
  • Andrea is in that interview he was very
  • tough on Russia much tougher than the
  • official line coming out of the State
  • Department and it was another one of
  • those sort of last straw things the
  • White House was livid about that because
  • it once again made them look like
  • they're being soft on Russia which they
  • don't want to look like because he
  • really got out in front of the White
  • House and what was really known
  • about this poisoning incident in Britain
  • so so I don't think he really got it it
  • really sunk in that Kelly's call
  • suggested that his job was in jeopardy
  • and you know he of course came back in
  • around 4:30 this morning and it wasn't
  • until apparently Trump's tweet that that
  • his top staffer showed him that he
  • understood that he was really out of a
  • job David Ignatius I wanted to come to
  • you because you and I have both covered
  • this man you've interviewed him many
  • times and the fact is that he was let's
  • face it a management disaster the irony
  • because he was the CEO of the world's
  • largest private company but he was at
  • least regarded as a traditionalist in
  • terms of foreign policy he objected on
  • tariffs he objected on withdrawing from
  • the Iran deal the Paris climate records
  • most recently he said it was going to
  • take much longer time to open and move
  • the embassy in Jerusalem into Jerusalem
  • for security reasons and then the White
  • House preempted him on that and said
  • it's going to happen on May 14th so
  • there were so many things Iran Russia on
  • which they disagreed and he was not
  • respected untrusted by our allies
  • because they knew he wasn't on the same
  • page as the president he was constantly
  • undercut by the president but he was far
  • more traditional and more in line
  • especially with Europe I think you put
  • it just right and really consistently
  • from what we know gave the president the
  • White House a traditional advice about
  • alliances relationships the continuity
  • of US policy the in doing so he was in
  • almost every instance in sync with
  • secretary defense mattis the two of them
  • would talk through every policy issue
  • before going to the White House to make
  • sure that they were aligned I think
  • Madison will be very sorry to see
  • Tillerson leave president was pretty
  • direct and the comments he made this
  • morning as he was about to get on the
  • helicopter he just didn't feel that he
  • was in step with with Tillerson it's
  • obvious that that traditional foreign
  • policy advice he kept getting from a
  • Secretary of State bothered in this the
  • president
  • wants to be the disrupter and he has a
  • secretary of state who says hold on sir
  • let's let's let's be more careful here
  • that Tillerson has not been a successful
  • Secretary of State you have to be honest
  • about that he has many good qualities
  • intellectually but the State Department
  • is just a mess and I think that the new
  • secretary of Pompeo will be a better
  • communicator a lot of things to wonder
  • and worry about with Pompeo secretary of
  • state but in terms of the outward facing
  • aspects of the job I suspect he'll be a
  • lot better at it Peter Alexander let's
  • put in context here this extraordinary
  • timeline now in that interview with
  • Gardner Harris and our other colleagues
  • on the plane last night on the way back
  • from Africa the secretary said he was
  • awakened early Saturday morning around
  • 2:30 in the morning from a call so that
  • was part of his explanation that 2:30
  • according to him he was awakened that
  • means that that was probably the John
  • Kelly call that has been referenced but
  • it could well be that he did not take
  • this as the firing because he had said
  • he had constantly said he has to do it
  • to my face he did not quit
  • and despite all of the you know don't
  • waste your time Rex when he was on his
  • way back from Asia famously don't waste
  • your time at diplomacy ironically there
  • now during diplomacy with North Korea
  • and the other thing was on October 4th
  • we reported that back in July the
  • president had referred to him as a moron
  • and it's very clear that mr. Trump
  • understandably did not like being called
  • a moron from his Secretary of State
  • something that Rex Tillerson personally
  • did not deny yeah and I think that last
  • point is crucial here you talk about
  • with Jeff Sessions the original sin
  • being his recusal from his role in the
  • Russia investigation for Rex Tillerson
  • the original sin perhaps was that
  • comment where he among other officials
  • described the president as a moron as
  • first reported by the team here at NBC
  • News and as you noted most importantly
  • although there were multiple occasions
  • on which he was pressed on this and even
  • at the time came out he said I won't
  • address petty things I think the word he
  • used was petty
  • issues like that and even more recently
  • was asked about it again and again said
  • he wouldn't talk about it and privately
  • my conversations here at the White House
  • or that that continued to frustrate the
  • president that his upset upset him from
  • the very beginning you know one thing
  • that really struck me from the
  • president's comments on the South Lawn
  • today was that he said I'm finally
  • getting to the point where we have the
  • right cabinet members we have our
  • cabinet and other officials in place
  • that that he said he's finally getting
  • that point which is to suggest that
  • there may be more changes still to come
  • and remember this is a president who
  • from the very beginning said I only hire
  • the smartest the the best people but
  • consider the the abrupt shifts we've
  • already watched and the not just in his
  • cabinet but across his administration
  • this West Wing in the course of the last
  • several months they're still looking for
  • a new communications director after Hope
  • Dix announced departure replacing
  • Anthony scaramouche II Sean Spicer Mike
  • dub key Tom Price at HHS he is out
  • Reince Priebus he's been fired to say
  • nothing of the other issues that have
  • gone a lot alongside David Shulkin at
  • the VA questions about his status right
  • now questions about spending by ben
  • Carson and others so even as we talk
  • about what is just a seismic shift right
  • now with the announcement regarding Rex
  • Tillerson consider the fact that the
  • president still appears to be
  • dissatisfied and there may be more
  • change coming and in fact make Maggie
  • Haberman who is often referred to as the
  • Trump whisperer because of all of her
  • exclusive reporting among your
  • colleagues Gardner at the New York Times
  • people close to the White House say they
  • expect more major personnel shifts this
  • week and effort to rip off the band-aid
  • fast on a number of fronts is like the
  • Republican losses in Pennsylvania watch
  • that tonight that's gonna that will
  • infuriate the press that's so smart of
  • you people right so and so it's to the
  • politics it's the politics of this
  • election tonight which the Republicans
  • fear they may lose and will lead to a
  • real change or worsening of the
  • narrative around the Trump presidency
  • and I think also you know you're exactly
  • right here Peter that the the president
  • oddly is getting more confident in this
  • job getting he's a year in he really is
  • feeling like he he sort of knows how to
  • do this job and
  • doesn't really want to be lectured
  • anymore by by people around him who I
  • think in the first few months he was
  • willing to sort of take that because he
  • wasn't confident in the job and so I
  • think you know among the other people
  • that we're gonna be watching this week
  • of course is HR McMaster the national
  • security adviser they are clearly not in
  • sync just as the president and Rex
  • Tillerson weren't in sync and and you
  • you know you wonder about whether that
  • is the next shoe to drop but but but the
  • Andrea I think it is important to point
  • out you know in in your conversation
  • that that the Rex Tillerson really
  • genuinely was one of the least
  • successful secretaries of state in
  • history you know you have two jobs
  • basically a secretary of state you got
  • to manage the White House and you got to
  • manage the State Department of the
  • building and he he obviously did not
  • manage the White House very well at all
  • and he was a disaster in managing the
  • building you know that the third which
  • is managing your interlocutors around
  • the the world can only happen if you do
  • those first two jobs and and he just was
  • never comfortable in this town he always
  • sort of continues to have that sort of
  • imperial CEO attitude of listen you know
  • I'm the secretary of state and I'm in
  • charge and everybody in this town knows
  • that that's not really the way the town
  • works you have various power centers
  • that you have to manage but he never
  • really understood that well nothing
  • could have made that more clear that his
  • comment about the moron which was done
  • in the Pentagon at the tank Carolis here
  • that was your original reporting you
  • were the lead reporter on that and we
  • all then were contributing but from your
  • perspective have can you recall a
  • Secretary of State ever publicly because
  • that is publicly remember of people
  • present there were a number of witnesses
  • we had numbers of sources there calling
  • the boss the commander in chief a moron
  • after such a significant meeting no and
  • not and particularly in front of a
  • number of his colleagues and obviously
  • that we spoke to several people who
  • overheard Tillerson
  • call the president a moron and I think
  • that it's exactly that it's hard to
  • overstate how much that irritated the
  • president
  • that cotillion continued to not deny it
  • and then that was just a constant
  • reminder of you know the fact that these
  • two were not on the same page and he
  • felt that he Rex Tillerson didn't
  • respect him so it was all of the policy
  • reasons that they were at odds over and
  • then you had the relationship and the
  • chemistry that just didn't gel and then
  • we know Rex Tillerson not denying that
  • he called the president a moron which he
  • didn't deny it because he did obviously
  • the benefit I think that the new hue
  • whether it's a team or you know it's
  • just the secretary of state and this new
  • CIA director coming in has a year into
  • this presidency is that they can learn
  • from some of the mistakes that they've
  • seen people like Rex Tillerson make in
  • terms of dealing with the president this
  • was neither of Rex Tillerson or Donald
  • Trump knew each other well coming into
  • this and they didn't gel Mike Pompeo
  • obviously is a very big advantage in
  • this relationship because he does have a
  • good relationship with the president you
  • heard the president stress how important
  • that is to him this morning and and so
  • he there's an opportunity for them to
  • kind of handle the way the president
  • operates his management style in a
  • better way than some of the people who
  • originally came in did and to that point
  • David Ignatius perhaps you and I are the
  • only ones here who remember the firing
  • of Alexander Haig who also was certainly
  • arrogant and did not get along with the
  • president and made his own you know
  • staked out his own place with Ronald
  • Reagan and that is a key point here the
  • really the devastation of the Foreign
  • Service you said it was a mess just in
  • the last 10 days we've had the
  • resignation of Joey Owen who was the
  • most preeminent of the Asia specialists
  • and Roberta Jacobson all of Latin
  • America
  • she's the Ambassador to Mexico but
  • previously she was the assistant
  • secretary for the region we have
  • vacancies that assistant secretaries
  • acting secretary assistant secretaries
  • everywhere and vacant vacant ambassador
  • posts in key posts in you know Riyadh
  • and key embassies around the world if
  • Mike Pompeo is smart he will move
  • quickly to fix that he will
  • quickly appoint ambassadors to fill
  • these open embassies many of them are
  • going to be career appointments there's
  • some things that Pompeo ought to find no
  • brainers as he comes in he has one thing
  • going for him
  • that Tillerson never did and that in
  • some ways was fatal teller s'en could
  • never speak for the president in a way
  • that was credible it was known around
  • the world that this was a bad
  • relationship a bad marriage between the
  • president secretary of state and that
  • undercut me big sister apparently
  • because of Jared Kushner and it
  • initially Steve Bannon setting up the
  • Riyadh summit which was not a logical
  • place to begin your diplomacy overseas
  • Teller stone was undercut and humiliated
  • in 20 different ways but I think the
  • fact that he didn't take command of his
  • own bureaucracy and mobilize it the
  • reason that secretary mattis is so
  • powerful in his interactions with the
  • White House is he's got the Pentagon
  • military behind him Tillerson never
  • understood that he needed to have the
  • Foreign Service behind a minute that
  • serves the country it also serves him as
  • a powerful figure but people around the
  • world knew that Rex Orson did not speak
  • for this president and that's that's a
  • problem well we have an all-star cast
  • throughout this program thank you all
  • for launching us and also we understand
  • that there have been two more firings at
  • the top not only the chief of staff
  • market peddling but Gardner Harris we
  • also understand that Steve Goldstein the
  • undersecretary for public affairs would
  • only come on board in December has also
  • just been fired as well cleaning house
  • at the State Department for those who
  • are left garden we're gonna have to
  • leave it there but this is an
  • extraordinary day even for this
  • administration thanks to our hey there
  • I'm Chris Hayes from MSNBC thanks for
  • watching MSNBC on YouTube if you want to
  • keep up to date with the videos we're
  • putting out you can click Subscribe just
  • below me or click over on this list to
  • see lots of other great videos

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President Donald Trump has decided to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This decision is raising questions about the Trump administrations relationship with Russia and the future of the State Department.
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Was Sec. Rex Tillerson's Firing A Long Time Coming? | Andrea Mitchell | MSNBC

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