Trump Fires Tillerson, Appoints Former CIA Chief as Secretary of State

Trump Fires Tillerson, Appoints Former CIA Chief as Secretary of State

Tuesday, 13 March, 2018 - 13:15
President Donald Trump has sacked Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
US President Donald Trump has sacked Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, he announced in a tweet on Tuesday.

He said that former CIA chief Mike Pompeo will be his replacement.

Pompeo is to be replaced by Gina Haspel, his deputy at the CIA, Trump tweeted. She would be the first woman in that role.

"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!" Trump said on Twitter.

A White House official said Trump wanted to have a new team in place ahead of upcoming talks with North Korea and various trade talks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.

There had been longstanding rumors throughout most of Tillerson's tenure of friction between Trump and his secretary of state, a former Exxon Mobile Corp. CEO.

Tillerson had just returned from a shortened trip to Africa hours before Trump's announcement. Trump offered no explanation for the change.

The resignation represents the biggest shakeup of the Trump cabinet so far and had been expected since last October when reports surfaced about a falling out between Trump and Tillerson, 65, who left his position as chief executive of Exxon Mobil to join the administration.

Trump publicly undercut Tillerson's diplomatic initiatives numerous times, including on Monday when the former secretary of state's comments about Russia appeared to be at odds with those of the White House.

Tillerson also appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with North Korea's leader and become the first sitting US president to do so.

Trump thanked Tillerson "for his service," but had scant words of praise for the Texan.

The outgoing secretary of state, who returned overnight from a trip to Africa, did not even speak to the president before his sacking was announced and was unaware of the reason for his sudden downfall, according to a top aide.

That aide -- Steve Goldstein, the undersecretary for public affairs and public diplomacy -- was quickly sacked after his comments. No reason was given, but White House and State Department officials said Trump had made the decision.

Before leaving on a trip to California, Trump spoke openly of his divergences with the former Exxon chief -- including over the Iran nuclear deal -- as he explained the rationale for the latest departure from his chaotic White House.

"We got along actually quite well but we disagreed on things," Trump told reporters.

"When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible, he thought it was okay," Trump said. "So we were not really thinking the same."

"I wish Rex a lot of good things," the president added. "I think he's going to be very happy. I think Rex will be much happier now.

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