A State Department spokesman said Tuesday Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had no idea President Trump was going to fire him and still does not know the reason for his termination.
Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein said his former boss was caught unawares by his dismissal.
"The secretary did not speak to the president 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," Goldstein said in a statement. "The secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security. He will miss his colleagues at the Department of State and the foreign ministers he has worked with throughout the world."
Goldstein also said Trump did not call Tillerson himself with the news.
Trump announced via Twitter Tuesday morning he had canned Tillerson, and initial reports indicated the dismissal took place during Tillerson's trip to Africa last Friday after approximately a year of service.
"I want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service. A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well," Trump said in a statement released Tuesday.
A senior White House official said Trump removed Tillerson because he wanted to have CIA Director Mike Pompeo in place as top diplomat ahead of the upcoming talks with North Korea.
"I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture," Trump added.