They were not in harmony over Iran and North Korea, and Mr Tillerson is reported to have described the President as a “moron”.
It was in truth a relationship that was never going to last.
That Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson stayed together so long is remarkable, so different are they in their approach to foreign affairs.
They were never in harmony over the Iran nuclear deal, and they were certainly never in step over North Korea.
Tillerson was aghast at Trump’s threats of war against the Kim Jong Un regime.
The Secretary of State went on record to say that he favoured talks with the North. Trump retorted: “Don’t waste your time.”
:: Sacked Rex Tillerson urges staff to stay in posts after Trump ‘disagreements’
Tillerson was known to be offended by the way he was sidelined. In one meeting with national security officials, he is reported to have described the President as a “moron”.
He didn’t deny saying it. And he later had to go on television to say that he fully supported the President and there were no issues between them.
Now there are even reports that Tillerson didn’t know he’d been fired until he saw it on Twitter. That is not confirmed but is nevertheless believable, given their relationship.
It was painful to watch. The fact is that in many ways Tillerson – despite being a former ExxonMobil chief executive who had never served in government – represents the very Washington establishment that Trump showers with contempt.
Trump didn’t like Tillerson’s ‘small c’ conservatism, and Tillerson was suspicious of what he saw as Trump’s recklessness. It was a marriage made in hell.
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But is a terrible time to have to sack your Secretary of State.
With a supposed summit with Kim Jong Un just weeks away, it reflects a chaotic approach to diplomacy.
There is no Ambassador to South Korea in place. There is no Assistant Secretary for East Asia.
Trump will be relying on a State Department that is undergoing huge cuts. And now this.
Donald Trump said recently that he liked working with people who didn’t agree with him. He obviously didn’t like it enough to keep Tillerson on board.
The truth is that Trump has wanted Mike Pompeo, his current CIA director, as his Secretary of State for months.
Pompeo is more hardline on both Iran and North Korea. He speaks Trump’s language.
Pompeo is being replaced by his deputy Gina Haspel, who will become the first female Director of the CIA.
She is a controversial pick, having been involved in a now banned CIA torture programme in 2002.
But this is the Trump White House, where controversy is never far away.