- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson once said he doesn’t use Twitter.
- He said in January that his staff printed out President Donald Trump’s tweets for him to read.
- On Tuesday, Trump fired Tillerson via tweet.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson found out he was fired when President Donald Trump tweeted the news on Tuesday morning, the State Department said.
Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein said Tillerson was “unaware of the reason” for his firing and had not previously discussed it with Trump.
But it’s far from the first time Tillerson has learned of major news from a Trump tweet — Tillerson said during a talk at Stanford University in January that he doesn’t have a Twitter account, and instead received print-outs of Trump’s tweets so he could figure out how to “use” them.
“The challenge is just getting caught up because I don’t even have a Twitter account that I can follow when he’s tweeting. So my staff usually has to print his tweets out and hand them to me,” Tillerson said, to the audience’s laughter.
He said that though the process may seem cumbersome, he “actually concluded that’s not a bad system.” He added that he doesn’t know in advance if or when Trump plans to tweet, so “there’s not a whole lot I’m gonna do until it’s out there.”
By the time his staff would hand him the papers, Tillerson said, early reactions to Trump’s tweets would usually have started filtering in, so he had a fuller picture of what to do next.
“It might be five minutes, or it might be an hour before somebody hands me a piece of paper and says, ‘Hey, the president’s tweeted this out,'” he said. “It allows me to now think about … is it a foreign policy issue? What is it he’s tweeting about, and how do we take that and now use it?”
Tillerson was at Stanford’s Hoover Institution to give a speech on the US’s efforts in stabilizing Syria. He made the remarks about Trump’s tweets after former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked him about Trump’s use of social media.
“It is a great tool when it’s used well,” Tillerson said. “The president has used it to great effect, by bypassing the way you traditionally communicate.”
He didn’t specify how the tweets are printed out — whether there were multiple on one page or if each tweet got its own piece of paper.
On Tuesday, Tillerson discovered he was fired via Trump’s tweet announcing he was making FBI Director Mike Pompeo his new secretary of state.
Watch a clip of Tillerson’s comments below:
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) January 17, 2018
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on January 17, 2018. It was updated after Tillerson’s ouster.