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Senior State Department official fired after comment on Rex Tillerson sacking

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Steven Goldstein at his confirmation hearing to be Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy at the US State Department before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 1, 2017. (AP photo)

One of the most senior officials at the US State Department has been fired after his remarks on the sacking of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to contradict the version of events provided by the White House.

Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein was fired by the White House just hours after his boss was let go.  He had only been in post since December 4.

As undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, Goldstein was the fourth highest ranking official at the State Department.

Goldstein had publicly contradicted the White House account of how Tillerson was fired on Tuesday morning.

Goldstein said Tillerson was officially notified he had been fired from a tweet from Trump on Tuesday morning, and in a statement, said Tillerson had "every intention of remaining." However, a senior Trump administration official said Trump asked Tillerson to step aside on Friday.

A senior White House official later clarified that Chief of Staff John Kelly told Tillerson that he would be replaced, but did not specify the timing.

Goldstein's dismissal was just the latest in a series of firings Tuesday by the Trump administration.

Trump fired Tillerson on Tuesday after a series of public rifts over issues including Iran, Russia and North Korea.

Tillerson’s departure had been widely anticipated for months. Tillerson’s exit makes his time in office the shortest of any secretary of state in nearly 120 years.

Trump noted the differences he had with Tillerson. "When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was okay,” the president said of Tillerson.

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