Rex Tillerson’s departure as Secretary of State caps months of friction between the Republican president and the 65-year-old former Exxon Mobil chief executive.
Tensions came to a head between Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson around the time the president delivered a speech in late July last year to the Boy Scouts of America.
Just days earlier, there were reports Tillerson had called Trump a “f***ing moron” and considered resigning, after the President called for a tenfold expansion of the US nuclear arsenal.
However in an unscheduled statement to reporters Tillerson said: “I have never consider leaving this post.”
Speaking to reporters today, President Trump said: “We’ve been talking about this for a long time. We go along actually quite well but we disagreed on things.”
He cited the Iran nuclear deal as one of the disagreements he had with Tillerson since he took up the position last January.
President Trump repeatedly promised to leave the Iran nuclear deal if elected during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
The president preserved the deal, although he made it clear he did so reluctantly after being advised to do so by Tillerson.
“He and I have differences of views on things like JCPOA, and how we should use it,” Tillerson said at a State Department briefing, using the acronym for the deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Trump’s decision to withdraw form the Paris climate accord reportedly did not sit well with Tillerson.
He openly disagreed with the president’s actions, saying: “I was free to express my views. I took a counter view to the decision that was made.”
However the most public dispute between the pair was over North Korea and America’s approach to the country.
Trump and Tillerson have repeatedly clashed over the way to handle North Korea’s aggressive stance towards the US.
Trump has favoured military action, whereas Tillerson was hoping to use other channels to reach a consensus on the country.
The president undermined Tillerson when the Secretary of State tried to open the door for talks with North Korea while on a trip to China.
However Trump tweeted: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”
The firing represents the biggest shakeup of the Trump Cabinet so far.
Tillerson was in office for a little over a year – one of the shortest tenures in modern history.
“Tillerson would be at or near the bottom of the list of secretaries of state, not just in the post-Second World War world but in the record of US secretaries of state,” says Paul Musgrave, a scholar of US foreign policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst told Vox.
Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, joins a growing number of senior White House officials who have left their posts in recent months.
Last week Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, announced plans to resign – shortly before the President signed off on the highly controversial trade tariffs on steel and aluminum.