Mattis on Tillerson ouster: ‘The job goes on’

Mattis on Tillerson ouster: ‘The job goes on’
© Greg Nash

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' US could deploy 150 troops to Syria: report MORE on Thursday downplayed the importance of President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE's decision to fire Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTillerson: Netanyahu 'played' Trump with misinformation Pompeo sees status grow with Bolton exit Trump blasts 'Mr. Tough Guy' Bolton: 'He made some very big mistakes' MORE this week, telling reporters that most of the world considers the news a "Washington, D.C., story."

In a press briefing reported by The Washington Post, Mattis said he understood reporters' concerns about how U.S. allies would react to the firing of America's top diplomat, but assured journalists that much of the world views the event as having little importance.


“I understand why you are asking,” Mattis said. “But I’m just pointing out that in most parts of the world, this is a Washington, D.C., story. It’s not about whether the United States is still an ally to the countries I’ve been, or the countries I’ve been talking to. I’ve signed letters while I’ve been out here with the normal coordination. The job goes on.”

Mattis added that mentions of Tillerson's ouster during his recent trip abroad to Bahrain did not “even come up” except from U.S. reporters asking about the decision.

“The durability of our relations with these countries, with the United States having strong institutions, goes beyond personalities,” Mattis said.

Trump fired Tillerson on Tuesday after the secretary returned from a trip to Africa, saying he made the decision "by himself" and didn't speak with Tillerson beforehand.

“I actually got along great with Rex, but really, it was a different mindset,” Trump said from the White House.

In his own statement Tuesday, Tillerson did not thank the president but spoke of the need to ensure an "orderly" transition to his nominated replacement, CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBolton replacement inherits tough challenges — including Trump Saudi Arabia says it will take 'appropriate' action if Iran's role in attacks confirmed Clarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump MORE.

“I received a call today from the president of the United States a little after noontime from Air Force One, and I’ve also spoken to White House chief of staff [John] Kelly to ensure we have clarity about the days ahead,” Tillerson said.

"What is most important is to ensure an orderly and smooth transition during a time that the country continues to face significant policy and national security challenges," he said.