He thanked his colleagues in the State Department. He thanked Secretary of Defense James Mattis. He thanked “300 million plus” Americans. He thanked everyone. Except President Donald Trump.
In fact, fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was abruptly ousted by the president Tuesday, only mentioned the president’s title, saying he had received a called at noon from “the President of the United States” informing him that he was being removed. A senior State Department official told NBC News that Tillerson first learned about his firing when Trump tweeted the news earlier.
Much of Tillerson’s farewell speech was a call to State Department officials to continue their work and to cooperate closely with other agencies and allies on issues such as stabilizing Iraq, defeating the Islamic State and improving relations with China.
“We all agree that U.S. leadership is diplomacy,” said Tillerson, who had months of discord with Trump and often seemed out of the loop or in disagreement with the president on major foreign policy decisions. “Nothing is possible without allies and partners.”
Tillerson also had a parting shot for Russia.
“Much work remains to respond to the troubling behavior and actions on the part of the Russian government,” he said. “Russia must assess carefully as to how its actions are in the best interst of the Russian people and the world more broadly. Continuing on their current trajectory is likely to lead to greater isolation on their part, a situation which is not in anyone’s interest.”