Outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday said goodbye to his colleagues and bid farewell to the “very mean-spirited town” that is Washington, D.C.
In the brief remarks ahead of his official departure — scheduled for the end of the month — Tillerson urged State Department employees to treat each other with respect and hold on to their “honesty and integrity.”
“Only you can relinquish it or allow it to be compromised. Once you’ve done so, it is very, very hard to regain it,” he said.
The farewell address comes just more than a week after President Donald Trump blindsided the former Exxon Mobil chief with a tweet announcing his dismissal. At the same time, the president revealed he’d selected CIA Director Mike Pompeo for Tillerson’s job.
It’s the second time he’s publicly acknowledged his unceremonious ousting and the second time he’s neglected to mention the president in his comments.
“This can be a very mean-spirited town,” Tillerson said after suggesting each person should perform an act of kindness every day.
“You don’t have to choose to participate in that. Each of us gets to choose the person we want to be, and the way we want to be treated and the way we will treat others.”
Rumors that Tillerson had been on the verge of quitting last summer first emerged in October and he also made headlines after he allegedly referred to Trump as a “moron.” He endured a tension-filled tenure as secretary of state, parting with Trump on several foreign policy issues including the Iran nuclear deal as well as the Paris climate agreement.
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