Trump shake-up takes down Tillerson

President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic MORE fired Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump House passes legislation to elevate cybersecurity at the State Department Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet MORE on Tuesday in what many at the White House believe could be the first of a new round of high-profile changes within the administration.

White House officials were not sorry to see Tillerson go, viewing him as an ineffective leader who was rarely on the same page as Trump.

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In a sign of the bitterness between the White House and Tillerson’s circle, officials joked about fighting for the right to fire one of Tillerson’s top spokesmen, Steven Goldstein, who had issued a statement that differed from the White House account of the secretary’s exit.

Tillerson did not thank the president in his farewell speech and barely mentioned him, underscoring the bad blood.

In his own remarks, Trump said he and Tillerson were never on the same “wavelength” while heaping praise on CIA Director Mike PompeoMike PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE, whom he nominated as the next secretary of State.

Trump signaled that more changes could be on the way.

“I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want,” he said.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinBiden's nominee for VA secretary isn't a veteran — does it matter? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress slogs toward COVID-19 relief, omnibus deal A crisis that unites veterans MORE could be next on the chopping block. Shulkin has been badly hobbled by an inspector general report that found he misused taxpayer money for lavish vacations. Shulkin has also been clashing with Trump political appointees on his own staff. The New York Times reported on Tuesday evening that Shulkin could be replaced by Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryCollege football move rocks Texas legislature Trump tries to spin failed Texas endorsement: 'This was a win' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 MORE.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster has been on thin ice for some time. Like Tillerson, he has never clicked with the president.

Trump has long expressed his frustration with Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE, blaming him for Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s special counsel investigation and fuming that he has not done enough to investigate Democrats.

And chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, once viewed as untouchable, has been under fire for his defense of a senior aide who resigned after being accused of domestic abuse by both of his ex-wives. The president is also believed to be frustrated by the narrative in the press that Kelly acts as his minder.

Trump has developed a reputation for venting against those who displease him, allowing them to twist in the wind with their futures in doubt rather than firing them outright.

But some in Trump’s inner circle think the president could use the momentum from Tillerson’s ouster for a purge.

“He needs to spend every day this week cleaning house so that the public and the press are so overwhelmed by the changes that there’s not enough time to absorb them all,” said one top Republican with deep ties to the administration. “That way, three weeks from now, it’s over, the Band-Aid is off and we’re back to focusing on the agenda.”

While the Tillerson news was cheered at the White House, the seemingly constant state of upheaval and turnover in the West Wing has been demoralizing to staff.

On Tuesday, the White House was reeling from the loss of John McEntee, Trump’s personal assistant, who was well-liked in the West Wing and close with the president. McEntee appears to be the latest casualty of Kelly’s enforcement of the security clearances process.

Other recent departures include communications director Hope HicksHope HicksUPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause Trump selects Hicks, Bondi, Grenell and other allies for positions Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tests positive for coronavirus MORE, staff secretary Rob Porter, senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBlack community group loses bid to acquire downtown LA Mall despite highest offer Kushner launching investment firm in move away from politics: report Washington Post calls on Democrats to subpoena Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Meadows for testimony on Jan. 6 MORE’s spokesman Josh Raffel and Kushner’s longtime family friend Reed Cordish. Those departures have left the White House with big shoes to fill in key roles.

“It’s one thing when it’s expected, no one will shed a tear over Tillerson,” said one GOP operative with close ties to the White House. “But when it’s unexpected, like with McEntee — the punch that hurts the most is the one you don’t see coming. That’s the kind of thing that shakes people to their core.”

The Hill asked a White House official on Tuesday what other changes were ahead, considering it is still so early in the week.

“I know, it feels like Friday,” the official said.

While Tillerson’s surprise ouster came as good news to the president’s allies, the sudden announcement and ensuing back and forth with the State Department had a whiff of chaos to it.

Trump announced over Twitter that Tillerson would be replaced by Pompeo moments after The Washington Post reported it.

“Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time,” Trump told reporters.

But Goldstein, the State Department spokesman, blasted out an email to reporters saying the move had come as a surprise to Tillerson.

The White House promptly fired Goldstein and scrambled to produce its own version of events.

Officials said Kelly called Tillerson twice between Friday and Sunday to tell him that he would be replaced upon his return from Africa.

“They wanted to let him know once the decision had been made, but waited until he got back to make an announcement,” an administration official said.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans RealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer MORE (R-Wis.) was informed of the decision on Monday during a conference call with Trump and Kelly.

That message did not trickle down to staff at State, sources tell The Hill, as Tillerson’s chief of staff Margaret Peterlin was pushing to hire new personnel on a conference call with White House officials as recently as Monday, apparently unaware that her boss had effectively been relieved of his duties.

Still, State Department career staff members had for months imagined Tillerson's tenure would be short-lived and had even been wagering on how quickly it might happen.

In the past year, department staffers described the secretary as remote, secluded, unapproachable and opaque with underlings not in the upper echelons of his team.

“As secretary of State, you usually have a base of support that comes either from the foreign policy establishment, the foreign service crowd, the political crowd or the press,” said the senior Republican. “I’ve never seen someone so brilliantly unite all of those factions against them the way Tillerson did.”

Scott Wong contributed