Tillerson says he knows who in the Trump administration got him fired: 'And they know I know'

  • Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly believed President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, stoked rumors of his impending ouster. 
  • "I know who it is. I know who it is. And they know I know," Tillerson told The New Yorker before he was fired last month. 
  • Tillerson repeatedly butted heads with Kushner, who oversees US policy in the Middle East.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson knew who wanted him out even before he was fired. 

After 14 months as the US's top diplomat, during which he oversaw the firing of hundreds of his department's rank-and-file, the former ExxonMobil CEO was unceremoniously fired via presidential tweet. 

But Tillerson doesn't lay blame for his ousting entirely on President Donald Trump, who undermined him and froze him out of his inner circle.

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Trump and Tillerson interact on the world stage
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Trump and Tillerson interact on the world stage
U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confer during a working lunch with African leaders during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) attend a working dinner with Latin American leaders in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks toward President Donald Trump during the 9/11 observance at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) looks toward him during a working dinner with Latin American leaders in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
With Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) at his side, U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a luncheon with Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
US President Donald Trump (R) speaks to the press with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) on August 11, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump said Friday that he was considering options involving the US military as a response to the escalating political crisis in Venezuela. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) listens to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) during a meeting with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C), US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayif bin Abdulaziz al-Saud take part in a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Trump (C) sits with US Secretary of State Rewx Tillerson (R), Vice President Mike Pence (2nd L) and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (L) during a lunch meeting with Argentinian President Mauricio Macri at the White House in Washington, DC, April 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes off his glasses after delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 19, 2017. US President Donald Trump's administration has launched a review of the Iran nuclear deal, officials said April 18, branding it a 'failed approach' to the threat posed by the Tehran regime. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: (AFP OUT) US President Donald Trump greets Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin (C) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) on his way out after delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017 in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Trump's first address to Congress focused on national security, tax and regulatory reform, the economy, and healthcare. (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo - Pool/Getty Images)
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"I know who it is. I know who it is. And they know I know," Tillerson told The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow in an interview before his March firing. 

Tillerson was reportedly referring to Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who butted heads with Tillerson repeatedly, in part over Middle East policy, which Kushner was given control of by the president. 

In one instance, Tillerson objected to United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley's decision to withhold funding for Palestinian refugees — a move she made after consulting with the White House. And when Tillerson pushed to reinstate the funding, Kushner was reportedly responsible for planting negative news stories about it, a State Department official told Farrow. 

A source close to the White House told Farrow that Tillerson wasn't particularly open to cooperation with Kushner and other West Wing officials and cabinet members.

"Here's what I saw: a President who surprised [Kushner] on the spot and said, 'You're doing Mideast peace,' after the campaign. A guy who tried to brief Rex every single week but could never even get a call back or a meeting," the source said. "And it wasn't just Jared. It was many people across the government, including fellow Cabinet members, who complained."

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Where Jared Kushner has traveled since becoming Senior Advisor
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Where Jared Kushner has traveled since becoming Senior Advisor

North Charleston & South Carolina

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrive on Air Force One to accompany U.S. President Donald Trump for his tour of the Boeing South Carolina facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Florida

U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump (C) and her family, husband Jared Kushner (L) and children Joseph and Arabella Kushner, arrive aboard the Marine One helicopter with the president to board Air Force One for travel to Florida from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Michigan

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (C) attends a roundtable discussion held by U.S. President Donald Trump with auto industry leaders at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Germany

U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner (L) speaks with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before departing for Iraq from Ramstein Air Base, Germany April 3, 2017. DoD/Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Iraq

Jared Kushner, senior advisor and son-in-law to U.S. President Donald Trump, meets with service members at a forward operating base near Qayyarah West in Iraq, April 4, 2017. DoD/Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Handout via REUTERS 

Florida

China's first lady Peng Liyuan talks with Trump Senior Advisor Jared Kushner as they attend a dinner at the start of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Saudi Arabia

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (C) arrives to join U.S. President Donald Trump and the rest of the U.S. delegation to meet with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Israel 

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner leaves a note at the Western Wall in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Italy

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump arrive to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

New Jersey

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner holds his son Theo as U.S. President Donald Trump with the first family arrives at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, U.S., after a weekend at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, June 11, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

West Bank

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with White House senior advisor Jared Kushner in the West Bank City of Ramallah June 21, 2017. Thaer Ghanaim/PPO/Handout via REUTERS 

Poland 

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, senior advisor of President Donald Trump, arrive aboard Air Force One at Warsaw military airport in Warsaw, Poland July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

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