In a shocking move, President Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
According to the Washington Post, last Friday Trump asked Tillerson to step aside. Tillerson cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.
Pompeo will replace him at the State Department, and Gina Haspel—the CIA’S deputy director—will succeed him at the CIA, becoming the first woman to run the intelligence agency, if confirmed.
In a statement issued to the Post, Trump praised both Pompeo and Haspel:
I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State. Mike graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the US Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the US House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.
Gina Haspel, the Deputy Director of the CIA, will be nominated to replace Director Pompeo and she will be the CIA’s first-ever female director, a historic milestone. Mike and Gina have worked together for more than a year, and have developed a great mutual respect.
Trump also had words of praise for Tillerson:
Finally, I want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service. A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well.
Tillerson and Trump have had a tempestuous relationship throughout the president’s tenure, with published reports, denied by the secretary of State, that he had referred to Trump as a “moron.” The reports prompted Trump to challenge his secretary of State to an IQ test.
Trump thinks Tillerson is “too establishment” in his thinking, and reportedly felt it was important to make the change now, as he prepares for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, as well as upcoming trade negotiations.
There were also differences in rhetoric, including on Monday, when Tillerson pointed the finger at Moscow over the poisoning of a double agent and his daughter in London. The White House earlier in the day had notably not blamed Russia for the incident, despite claims to the contrary from Great Britain’s prime minister.
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