Trump ousts Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, replaces him with CIA director Mike Pompeo
Trump announced the move in a Tuesday statement to the Washington Post, then in a tweet.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had repeatedly clashed with Trump. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been ousted by President Donald Trump.
Tillerson had repeatedly clashed with Trump. Tillerson reportedly thought Trump was ill-informed and irresponsible. Trump reportedly thought Tillerson was disloyal, ineffective and overly fond of traditionalist policy.
The obvious discord had undermined Tillerson’s credibility with other countries. And Trump had vividly demonstrated, on numerous occasions, that the former ExxonMobil chief executive was indeed not actually speaking for him.
Trump announced the move in a Tuesday statement to the Washington Post, then in a tweet. It followed Tillerson’s decision to issue a statement blasting Russia, a country that U.S. intelligence believes intervened in the 2016 election to help get Trump elected, as an “irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.”
The Post said Trump asked Tillerson to step aside on Friday, before the Russia statement. Tillerson cancelled diplomatic events in Kenya on Saturday, saying he was not feeling well, the Post reported.
Trump confirmed the news on Twitter.
“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!” he wrote.
Pompeo, a Harvard Law graduate and a former Army officer and businessman, served just over three terms as a Kansas congressman. He has endeared himself to Trump during the daily intelligence briefings he has peronally delivered to the president.
First elected as part of the tea party electoral wave in 2010, Pompeo is known for his right-wing views. He has called for the death penalty for secrets-leaker Edward Snowden, sought the abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal, wants to keep the Guantanamo Bay prison open, and advocated a return of the banned National Security Agency surveillance practice of collecting “metadata” on Americans.
Trump refused in late November to give Tillerson a vote of confidence. Asked if he wanted Tillerson to remain in his job, Trump simply pointed out that Tillerson was physically present at the White House with him, saying, “He's here. Rex is here.”
Tillerson’s tenure was the among the shortest in U.S. history. It was rocky from the start. Critics in both parties, along with current and former diplomats, had accused him of mismanagement.
Trump’s administration has been plagued by abnormally high turnover. In just 13 months in office, Trump has now lost or fired a secretary of state, health secretary, chief of staff, chief strategist, press secretary, communications director, second communications director, and FBI director.