A State Department spokeswoman and former Fox and Friends co-host will replace a top aide to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who contradicted the official account of how Tillerson was fired Tuesday.
Steve Goldstein, former under secretary of public affairs, said that Tillerson found out about his firing on Tuesday morning after reading a tweet from President Donald Trump. The White House said that chief of staff John Kelly had previously told Tillerson he would be replaced. Goldstein, who had only been at his post since December, was fired on Tuesday as well.
The White House then confirmed State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as acting under secretary for public diplomacy, with a White House official telling Axios, “Heather is the only one at State we trust.”
Nauert joined the State Department in April 2017 and has no previous diplomatic experience. When asked in February about the specifics of what the State Department was doing to end the violence in Syria, she responded, “I don’t know what some of you expect us to do.”
Prior to her job at State, Nauert was an anchor at Fox and Friends for five years, and previously worked at the New York Fox affiliate Fox 5 for most of her career.
Trump’s affection for Fox and Friends is well-known. Fox anchors, along with Trump International and adviser accounts, represent the bulk of the accounts the president follows on Twitter. A researcher at the University of Chicago, who plotted the time of day that Trump tweets, found an extremely dense band between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., precisely when Fox and Friends is on the air. After a U.S. Navy sailor pleaded for an appeal of his national security felony conviction on Fox and Friends, Trump pardoned him days later.
Goldstein’s firing and Nauert’s promotion was part of a day of upheaval in the Trump administration. Earlier on Tuesday, Trump’s longtime personal aide, John McEntee, was fired and escorted from the White House without even getting the chance to collect his belongings. It had emerged that he was under investigation by the Department for Homeland Security for “serious financial crimes” — although DHS declined to elaborate on the exact nature of those potential crimes.
In his farewell speech, Tillerson also notably failed to thank Trump, but he did mention Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“Much work remains to respond to the troubling behavior and actions on the part of the Russian government,” Tillerson said. “[Russia could face] greater isolation on their part, a situation which is not in anyone’s interest.”