- Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was reportedly poised to announce her resignation Sunday when the president beat her to it, announcing her departure by tweet.
- She joins a list of senior administration officials Trump publicly ousted in tweets, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
- Nielsen’s departure comes amid a shakeup of the Department of Homeland Security by anti-immigration hardliners.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more.
Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen joined an ignominious list on Sunday – Trump administration officials who found out via tweet that they’d been let go by the president.
According to Axios, Nielsen planned to resign during meeting with the president amid a shakeup of immigration policy by administration hardliners, and even brought her resignation letter with her.
Before she could publicly announce her resignation, however, the president undercut her, tweeting that “she will be leaving her position.”
Nielsen reportedly knew she was on the way out, but for others news of their firing by the president on social media, or via news reports, came as a surprise.
Former FBI Director James Comey, now a high profile critic of the president, said he found out he had been fired by Trump in May 2017 when he saw reports of his ousting playing on TV screens as he gave a speech in Los Angeles.
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s first secretary of state learnt he was fired via one of the president’s tweets in March 2018. He had been told by then chief of staff John Kelly that president would ask him to “step aside” – but had been provided with no information about when this might take place, State Department officials told CNBC.
“The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling and not to be regretted,” said the State Department in a statement at the time, underlining that Trump declined to so much as pick up a phone to tell his chief diplomat he was out of a job.
Weeks later, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said that he learnt of his firing via a tweet by the president – only this time Kelly gavehim warning of when to expect the axe to fall.
“General Kelly gave me a heads up that the President would most likely be tweeting out a message in the very near future, and I appreciated having that heads-up from General Kelly,” Shulkin told CNN.
In August 2018, White House counsel Don McGahn was among those surprised to find out he would be leaving his post in the fall after a tweet by Trump.
A source close to McGahn told the Washington Post that he had not discussed plans to leave with Trump, and the president’s tweet was abrupt, but typical of how he operates.
Kelly though was spared the humiliation of a public and surprise sacking by Trump last December, with the president and the former Marine general speaking by phone before Trump announced that he would be leaving the role the next day.
Trump crafted his no-nonsense business magnate persona on reality show the Apprentice, where every week he would direct his “You’re Fired” catchphrase at a hapless aspiring executive in the boardroom.
And the management style has carried over to the White House, with the president seemingly addicted to forcing people from jobs before a global audience amid an unprecedented turnover of senior staff.
Michael McDermott, a management professor at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, told the BBC after Tillerson’s firing that Trump’s approach to firing staff reflects his overall management style.
“It gets to a leader’s style,” he said. “If you see people as objects to be used to achieve your ends, you’re almost in a position where you don’t have to show them respect as people, you just have to remove the chess piece from the board because it’s an object.”
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