Why does this keep happening?


The firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now the latest in a string of high-profile departures from the White House, leaving behind him a department in shambles with damage that could last a generation. Following the announcement that Tillerson had been fired — which came from the president, via tweet — the State Department released a truly stunning response and is faced with the prospect of Trump loyalist Mike Pompeo as the incoming replacement.

“There are so many different things that could go wrong [on the world stage] if they are handled wrong diplomatically — or at least handled normally,” explains Vox’s Zack Beauchamp. “And it is not clear that Pompeo will be able to do his job with his organization so depleted [after Tillerson].”

Furthermore, Tillerson’s firing puts the nail in the coffin of the “adults in the room theory” — the idea that staffers like Tillerson, Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and former White House Economic Council Director Gary Cohn were the real people in charge. Or at least that they would be successful in tempering Trump’s worst impulses.

For more on Tillerson’s disastrous legacy, what comes next, and what his expulsion means in the greater context of White House firings, listen to Ezra Klein and Zack Beauchamp on the latest episode of Today, Explained:

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  • You can get the news we’re reading throughout the day, facts and stats to make you smarter about the world, and behind-the-scenes photos on Twitter at @Today_Explained. You can follow Sean at @Rameswaram, Ezra Klein at @EzraKlein, and Zack Beauchamp at @ZackBeauchamp.

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