The so-called fake news media missed a really important step in the dismissal of Rex Tillerson and the hiring of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Actually, there was an intervening telephone call between the two events. Shocking how it’s been missed by all the media.
The call was from President Donald Trump to me, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg.
“Donald Trump’s on the phone,” came the message from my secretary.
I wondered who this was. That’s the way we joke around the office, announcing ourselves to old friends or special clients with a sense of humor.
“Who is this?” I am asked when I make a call.
“George Bush,” I used to say in order to get past the gatekeeper.
That got a chuckle — and got me past the gatekeeper.
Then I used to say, “This is Barack Obama.”
Now it’s “This is Donald Trump.”
So I figured my secretary’s reference to the President of the US was some kind of variation on the joke.
I picked up, ready for a quick comeback to some close buddy I usually joke around with.
Imagine my shock when it was actually Donald Trump’s voice — the Donald Trump — on the other end of the line.
“Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, well we know each other already, so I’ll just call you Hillel, you’re in at State.”
“What?” I could barely squeeze out. I didn’t get it.
“Look, the confirmation will be a breeze, we checked you out.
“You’re terrific, wonderful, w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l, for this job. Much better than the guy who’s gone.”
I hadn’t heard that Rex Tillerson had been fired just minutes before.
I don’t follow the president’s Twitter account, and in any event I try to stay focused on what I am supposed to do today and not get distracted by the endless social media stuff.
“Uh, Mr. President, State? . . .” I just didn’t get the flow, nor had any president of US ever placed a personal call to me before. I was still in shock.
“We know where you stand on Iran,” said Trump. “We know where you stand on Israel. Besides, Jared will enjoy having another MOT around, observant, too! Yeah, you’ll like Friedman, and Jason. It’ll be great. Like everything we do. It already is great. Be in Washington tomorrow. You’ll have your first press conference.”
What? Me? Secretary of State?
In the background, there is an argument. It’s about the tweet that President Trump sent out firing Tillerson. Some said it humiliated the man.
Some said that things were so bad that it was just better to cut the pain and get it over with. This went on for a half minute or so.
Then President Trump is back on the line.
“The security detail is already outside your office. Pack. Dinner tonight at the White House. Kosher.
“I can’t wait for you — somebody who’s got the right ideas and knows how to build a team. You know that State is in a shambles. . . . “
Just now my secretary runs into the office with a news feed on the internet about the cold “Thank you for your service” tweet to Rex Tillerson.
By now, word is getting out around the IJN office that something very unusual is going on, even though our whole phone call is, by now, not more than two minutes or so.
Keep in mind, it’s just registering on me what the President is saying. I haven’t even had the proverbial 20 seconds to think about it, let alone give a response.
Trump, I guess, saw this as hesitancy.
Then I hear President Trump in the background.
“You know this Goldberg thing, just save the tweet. We’re not going to appoint him, so we don’t need to fire him. He can’t even make up his mind!”
Then it’s the President on the line again.
“Thank you. Thank you.”
That was the intervening telephone call between Tillerson and Pompeo.
I was next in line for Secretary of State.
I hardly knew it while it was happening. It all happened so fast. Two minutes, tops.
I guess I should be grateful that the announcement never went out, because that meant that the tweet firing me also never went out.
Just curious, I left my office for the front door of the building and noticed this huge phalanx of limousines, of cops, of other scary security-looking guys turning around and heading off.
“Hah, hah, so it was Donald Trump on the phone,” a member of the IJN staff smiled at my expense, poking fun at the obviously ridiculous rumor going around the office.
Little did they know.
Actually, little did I know.
In fact, little does anyone who works for President Trump know whether he or she will be in the saddle for two four-year terms, for one four-year term, for one year, for one month, for one day or for one minute.
Me? I had about two minutes with President Donald Trump.
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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