Rex Tillerson is finally, inevitably, done as secretary of state. While other members of the Trump administration who quickly disappeared from their positions came as surprising news, Tillerson's position has looked precarious for almost his entire time running the State Department. This is the guy who had to appear before the media and promise he never called Donald Trump an idiot, or swear that Donald Trump didn't literally castrate him, all while seeing his position and the entire department emptied and marginalized.
But Tillerson isn't one of those Trump rubes who gets to leave on his own terms or even with a few shreds of dignity. Trump dropped the axe on him promptly when Tillerson didn't toe the White House line. On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that a Russian ex-spy was indeed poisoned by Russia, but when pushed for comment, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointedly refused to support May's accusation.
Tillerson, however, was much less squirmy on the issue, explicitly saying that the attack "clearly" originated in Russia, though he said it's too early to know if the Russian government was behind it, according to NBC News. He elaborated:
"It's almost beyond comprehension that a state, an organized state, would do something like that,” he said while traveling aboard a U.S. airplane during a trip to Africa.
“A non-state actor, I could understand. A state actor — I cannot understand why anyone would take such an action,” he said.
Asked if the poisoning will trigger a mutual defense response with the close NATO ally, Tillerson said that “it certainly will trigger a response. I'll leave it at that.”
He was right about triggering a response. Tuesday morning, Trump announced Tillerson was out of a job via Twitter, and if you think he did this in a way that was respectful to Tillerson's year-long prostrating, well:
C.I.A. director Mike Pompeo will be replacing Tillerson. Pompeo himself will be replaced at the C.I.A. by Deputy Director Gina Haspell, the first woman to run the agency and, per the New York Times, a big, big fan of torture.
The C.I.A.’s first overseas detention site was in Thailand. It was run by Ms. Haspel, who oversaw the brutal interrogations of two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
Mr. Zubaydah alone was waterboarded 83 times in a single month, had his head repeatedly slammed into walls and endured other harsh methods before interrogators decided he had no useful information to provide.
The sessions were videotaped and the recordings stored in a safe at the C.I.A. station in Thailand until 2005, when they were ordered destroyed. By then, Ms. Haspel was serving at C.I.A. headquarters, and it was her name that was on the cable carrying the destruction orders.
So, Rex Tillerson is gone, but only to be replaced by Mike Pompeo, who seems really eager for a war with Iran and who will leave the C.I.A. in even more torture-friendly hands. Just like when Sean Spicer was replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump always manages to find a new bottom of the barrel to scrape when looking for underlings.