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Trump fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; CIA Director Mike Pompeo taking over

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a news conference in Cairo, Egypt, on February 12, 2018. (Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
March 13, 2018

President Donald Trump has fired Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and is replacing him with current CIA Director and former Congressman Mike Pompeo.

Trump announced his decision in a Tuesday morning tweet.

“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State,” Trump tweeted. “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!”

Tillerson served just over a year in the position; he was confirmed as Trump’s Secretary of State last February. He reportedly did not know the President was going to make the announcement today, nor does he know the exact reason for his departure.

“The Secretary did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve,” State Department Under Secretary Steve Goldstein said.

Pompeo released a statement Tuesday about his new appointment.

Pompeo said:

“I am deeply grateful to President Trump for permitting me to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for this opportunity to serve as Secretary of State. His leadership has made America safer and I look forward to representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America’s prosperity.

Serving alongside the great men and women of the CIA, the most dedicated and talented public servants I have encountered, has been one of the great honors of my life. I am proud of the work we have done on behalf of America and know that the Agency will continue to thrive under the leadership of Gina Haspel.

If confirmed, I look forward to guiding the world’s finest diplomatic corps in formulating and executing the President’s foreign policy. In my time as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, I have worked alongside many remarkable Foreign Service officers and Department of State leaders serving here in the United States and on the very edge of freedom. I know I will learn from them and, as President Trump set out in his State of the Union Address, work hard to ensure that ‘our nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.'”

Haspel also released a statement:

“After 30 years as an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, it has been my honor to serve as its Deputy Director alongside Mike Pompeo for the past year. I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Trump told The Washington Post:

“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 U.S. Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the U.S. 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 and Tillerson were never fully in sync on public messaging, and both men constantly released contradictory statements and agendas.

One example of this was with North Korea.

Trump constantly took a more aggressive and public approach to dealing with North Korean dictator Kim Jon Un – which has since appeared to have paid off, as the two are expected to meet in person for the first time ever.

While the White House had confirmed that the President would meet with Kim Jong Un, reports Monday had Tillerson saying there was no direct confirmation of the meeting yet, an indication that Trump was not keeping the Secretary of State in the loop on progress with North Korea.

Back in October, the President had told Tillerson to “save his energy” when it comes to talks with North Korea.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…,” the President tweeted, referring to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Trump added: “… Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”

Later, he also tweeted: “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail.”

Tillerson had previously said the U.S. has a direct line of communication with Pyongyang.

“We are probing, so stay tuned,” Tillerson had said at a press conference in China. “We ask, ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communications to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation or a blackout. We have a couple of direct channels to Pyongyang. We can talk to them. We do talk to them. Directly, through our own channels.”

“We’ve made it clear that we hope to resolve this through talks,” he continued, saying the main goal “is a peaceful resolution.”

“I think the most immediate action that we need is to calm things down,” Tillerson said. “They’re a little overheated right now, and I think we need to calm them down first.”

The President effectively shut down Tillerson’s statements and alluded to the fact that his Administration and, most likely, the U.S. Military would take care of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump and Tillerson have also not seen eye to eye on other issues, including Russia, the decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and the decision for the U.S. to leave the Paris Climate Agreement.