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Vox Sentences: Rexcriminations

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is out; the Taliban signals it might be ready for peace talks.

Exxon Rex-gone

Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the latest official to exit the revolving door that is the Trump White House, after President Donald Trump seemingly dismissed him via tweet this morning. [Washington Post / Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker]
  • Trump has nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo for Tillerson’s post and named Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel to Pompeo’s seat. [CNN / Maegan Vazquez]
  • It was the culmination of months of tension between Trump and Tillerson. Their relationship reportedly soured due to communication issues and a lack of reception for the State Department at the White House. Trump also said he had a “different mindset” from Tillerson on certain issues. [Reuters]
  • The two men also had an awkward personal relationship, evidenced by one anecdote where Trump reportedly commanded Tillerson to eat a salad at a reception in China, afraid untouched salad greens would offend their hosts. [WSJ / Michael C. Bender and Felicia Schwartz]
  • Beyond his relationship with the president, Tillerson was bad at his job by many accounts. Under his tenure, many career diplomats were let go and not replaced, and morale at the State Department plummeted. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Many in the Senate didn’t seem shocked that Tillerson had been ousted, especially given his rocky relationship with the president and the sheer number of departures from the Trump White House. [Vox / Ella Nilsen]

For all the issues at Tillerson’s State Department, he was widely considered to be a check on some of the president’s foreign policy impulses. Pompeo is much more aligned with Trump’s views on these issues, and likely won’t restrain him as much as Tillerson might have. [NYT / David Sanger]

Tenuous signs of peace in Afghanistan?

  • The Taliban might be willing to negotiate peace talks with the US after 16 years of war. At least according to US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who just returned from an unannounced trip to Afghanistan. [Reuters / Phil Stewart]
  • Mattis’s unannounced visit to the country is coming two weeks after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani invited the Taliban to begin peace talks without preconditions — a move that many observers consider unprecedented. [Associated Press]
  • Although the Taliban said last month that it was open to negotiation, the group has yet to respond directly to Ghani’s offer. [Washington Post / Dan Lamothe]
  • Speaking on a flight from Oman to Afghanistan, Mattis preempted concerns by clarifying that the peace settlement is backed by the ongoing efforts of the US and Afghan militaries. “All wars come to an end. ... You don’t want to miss an opportunity because you weren’t alert to the opportunity. So, you need to have that door open, even if you embrace the military pressure.” [The Hill / Rebecca Kheel]


  • Spotify is enlisting all of its 160 million users to help clean up its vast music library. [Quartz / Amy X. Wang]
  • A New Hampshire woman will be able to keep her Powerball winnings and her identity secret after a ruling from a Superior Court judge that could change legal precedent in the state. [NHPR]
  • In very important, escapist news: “Book towns” — towns where locals have made bookstores their specialty — exist. And yes, we very much want to go to there. [Atlas Obscura / Sarah Laskow]
  • Dockless bike shares are so last year. Residents of Washington, DC, Dallas, and Seattle can now enjoy dockless scooters. (Can’t wait to see where DC residents park these babies.) [Curbed / Patrick Sisson]


“Yeah, that’s been anxiety-inducing, especially because: Men as a group? Not fantastic. White men as a group? I don’t have a sense that I will be met with safety and joy on the other side. So there have absolutely been moments when I felt like, ‘For real? This is it? This is what you want?’” [The Toast co-founder Daniel Mallory Ortberg on his recent gender transition, to the Cut / Heather Havrilesky]

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