Trump tells media why he axed Tillerson

President Trump talks to media about firing former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Posted: Mar 14, 2018 11:51 AM
Updated: Mar 14, 2018 11:53 AM

Ask around about Donald Trump's time as an Atlantic City mogul and the stories are legion: A-larger-than-life figure whose casinos were all about him. Some mistakes he would forgive. But according to one story -- maybe urban legend -- there was one unforgivable sin: If you forget to call it Trump's casino, as one employee apparently once did, you're gone.

Rex Tillerson made that same mistake: He forgot it's not his casino.

It belongs to President Trump. And now more than ever, or so the President believes.

In conversations with people who know the President well, one point seems clear: The President thinks the turmoil is great. It shows he's in charge now, for real.

"He thinks he's got it," says an ally. "I can tell when he's concerned and when he's not. He's not. He's on cloud nine." A man in full.

Trump now figures he knows how to do this presidential thing after a year on the job. "He thinks 'I've come into my own,'" says this friend. "I don't need anybody to tell me how to do this anymore."

Sure, Trump is lonely. Sources always say that he doesn't have a lot of friends, save for his family. And lately, with Stormy brewing, Melania is surely less dependable. And the President still gets frustrated by the forced solitude and thinking time imposed on him by chief of staff General John Kelly.

But now, after a win on tax reform under his belt and with a good economy, there is a newfound muscle-flexing. Trump is now the CEO. He can rely on basic instinct. And, predicts this ally, "it's not over."

Well-founded rumors are flying about Trump's unhappiness with Kelly and his National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster. But he let his differences with Tillerson fester for months before acting, right? So why wouldn't that delay happen again?

Because this version of Trump is apparently more self-assured. He wants to really bring in his own team, not a team he picked when he did not know what direction he would take on foreign policy or anything else. "I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the cabinet and other things that I want," Trump told reporters on Tuesday.

Besides, now he knows he can say one thing on gun control one day, and do something else the next, and his base will say it's OK. He is more sure. He's "confident," as the friend puts it, even at 38% popularity. "He thinks he's penetrated the BS."

So is the Cabinet also on the firing line? Probably. Will Attorney General Jeff Sessions be the next to go? Friends caution that while that could happen (under the anything-is-possible-in-Trumpworld caveat), the Tillerson saga doesn't mean the attorney general is next. Sessions has his own conservative political constituency and still tries to be a respectful ally to the President. Trump considered his secretary of state arrogant, even disrespectful. I mean, he did call Trump a moron, or at least he never denied it.

And what about the rest of the Cabinet? The high-flying, pricey-decorating, taxpayer-soaking folks? Sure, anything can happen, especially if Trump is made to look bad -- as with the drama surrounding Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who CNN reports is on the chopping block. But there also seem to be more important fish to fry. As the Trump friend puts it, "Next to him is what matters," as in the White House staff. So get ready for him to take care of that too. It's about his comfort level, not anyone else's.

And never mind the bad form. The Tillerson saga played out for months, and then, in the end, it was still a mess. It's just a Trump pattern, as suggested by that story about the Atlantic City employee who found himself out of a job.

It is, as ever, Trump's casino.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 587049

Reported Deaths: 9287
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion810691296
Lake44121665
Allen31797541
Hamilton28178303
St. Joseph26684369
Elkhart24057340
Vanderburgh18519213
Tippecanoe17305121
Johnson14398284
Porter14342159
Hendricks13793241
Madison10509212
Vigo10432171
Clark10151129
Monroe9029108
Delaware8782129
LaPorte8721153
Kosciusko784677
Howard7834137
Warrick636790
Hancock633297
Bartholomew624294
Floyd6098105
Wayne5903156
Grant5799109
Dubois541670
Boone531467
Morgan512388
Marshall492484
Henry491164
Cass469060
Noble458757
Dearborn454544
Jackson413145
Shelby401178
Lawrence379475
Clinton363639
Gibson355056
DeKalb336363
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Harrison326042
Knox325439
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Scott216437
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Sullivan188531
Spencer179917
Fountain178625
Washington175018
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Jay162021
Fulton158829
Owen157837
Carroll151315
Orange150533
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Perry145327
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Franklin142533
Parke12788
Tipton127332
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Blackford107022
Pulaski94637
Newton89020
Brown85530
Benton84110
Crawford7479
Martin69213
Warren6537
Switzerland6175
Union6063
Ohio4647
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 821507

Reported Deaths: 10135
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin96935704
Cuyahoga81526972
Hamilton60913438
Montgomery41445399
Summit33096726
Lucas29981591
Butler29513227
Stark24608400
Warren18792139
Lorain17916207
Mahoning16710335
Lake15255135
Clermont15053104
Delaware1374277
Licking12595132
Trumbull12352301
Fairfield1211380
Greene11532132
Medina11033165
Clark10557264
Wood9901154
Allen9481126
Portage8802105
Miami880173
Richland8748116
Marion7305113
Tuscarawas7095174
Columbiana7047124
Pickaway699850
Wayne6729162
Muskingum665342
Erie5866117
Hancock537090
Ross526087
Scioto514862
Geauga478255
Darke456089
Ashtabula437268
Union429228
Lawrence428951
Mercer423387
Sandusky419062
Seneca411755
Auglaize410959
Huron409138
Shelby408521
Jefferson400466
Belmont392840
Washington367940
Putnam363672
Athens36229
Madison337928
Knox334922
Ashland329138
Fulton324243
Defiance317078
Crawford311968
Preble310034
Brown294419
Logan291829
Ottawa280534
Clinton278143
Williams268966
Highland261318
Jackson255243
Guernsey239425
Champaign239227
Fayette224529
Morrow22194
Perry220517
Holmes217562
Henry208847
Hardin203032
Coshocton197120
Van Wert196244
Wyandot189949
Gallia189126
Adams165515
Pike163416
Hocking161923
Carroll148016
Paulding139021
Noble117540
Meigs102421
Monroe95227
Harrison8578
Morgan78227
Vinton65613
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