White House fires top Tillerson aide who contradicted account of secretary of State's dismissal

Key Points
  • Steve Goldstein, top spokesman for fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, himself was fired Tuesday for contradicting the official Trump administration account of Tillerson's dismissal.
  • Trump's personal assistant John McEntee also was reportedly fired Tuesday.
  • Trump will nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to become the top U.S. diplomat.
Administration in a shaky moment with Tillerson firing
Administration in a shaky moment with Tillerson firing

Steve Goldstein, top spokesman for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was fired Tuesday for contradicting the official administration account of Tillerson's own firing, a White House official told NBC News.

A State Department official confirmed the firing of Goldstein, who was an undersecretary of State, to NBC News, as well.

Goldstein had only been in post since Dec. 4.

Trump announced over Twitter on Tuesday that he was replacing Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Goldstein said soon afterward that Tillerson had not spoken directly about the move with the president.

Irwin Steven Goldstein, of New York, during his confirmation hearing to be Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy at the United States Department of State, before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on November 1st, 2017.
Alex Edelman | picture-alliance | dpa | AP

"The Secretary had every intention of remaining because of the tangible progress made on critical national security issues," a statement issued by Goldstein said.

"The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling and not to be regretted."

NBC News reported that Tillerson had learned of his firing from Trump's tweet.


Tillerson later said he will give up his duties at the end of Tuesday and officially leave the job at the end of the month.

Goldstein had been senior vice president of BP Global Solutions before joining the State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to members of the media at the State Department October 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

Goldstein's dismissal was the just the latest in a series of firings Tuesday by the Trump administration.

In addition to Tillerson, Trump's personal assistant, John McEntee, also was axed and removed from the White House for unspecified security reasons, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited sources.

McEntee immediately joined Trump's 2020 re-election campaign as a senior advisor.

A CNN reporter tweeted Tuesday that McEntee was terminated because he is under investigation for "serious financial crimes" by the Department of Homeland Security.


In a statement he released after being fired, Goldstein said:

"I was proud to speak on behalf of the Secretary of State to the American people and allies throughout the world and this has been the honor of a lifetime.

It's within the purview, you are appointed by the administration and you are appointed for the time being. That is what is listed on your commission and it is determined by the White House who they want in these roles.

I don't have regret, other than you always want to try to do more, but I feel proud of what we achieved and I am so impressed by the Secretary of State. He is truly a great man.

I look forward to getting more rest and hopefully winning an indoor rowing competition."