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"State Department Steve" fired after Tillerson ouster

Rex Tillerson
Ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

State Department Under Secretary Steve Goldstein was also fired Tuesday, several news outlets report, after issuing a statement that said Rex Tillerson had not spoken with the president prior to being fired.

The backdrop: Axios' Jonathan Swan reported last month that Goldstein was universally loathed within the White House and seen as openly anti-Trump. Several administration officials also told Swan they felt Goldstein had a history of exacerbating tensions between the White House and the State Department.

Goldstein's statement regarding Tillerson's ouster:

The Secretary had every intention of remaining because of the tangible progress made on critical national security issues. He established and enjoyed relationships with his counterparts... The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling and not to be regretted.
Erica Pandey 1 hour ago
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How China became a powerhouse of espionage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

As China’s influence spreads to every corner of the globe under President Xi Jinping, so do its spies.

Why it matters: China has the money and the ambition to build a vast foreign intelligence network, including inside the United States. Meanwhile, American intelligence-gathering on China is falling short, Chris Johnson, a former senior China analyst for the CIA who's now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, tells Axios: "We have to at least live up to [China's] expectations. And we aren't doing that."

Caitlin Owens 1 hour ago
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Congress doesn't love the spending bill, but it passed anyway

Congressional leaders
Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Photo: Matt McClain / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

House Speaker Paul Ryan touted the defense spending increase, Sen. Rand Paul angrily tweeted about arcane government spending, and Democrats shook their head at the lack of gun control measures. But most members of Congress accepted the omnibus spending bill for what it is: A giant collection of what has to get done to keep the government functioning, while mustering enough votes to pass.

Why it matters: This is a $1.3 trillion dollar bill affecting every branch of government that passed mostly because it had to. Members voted on it without really reading it, as it was released Wednesday night and passed the Senate shortly after midnight Friday.