Trump fires Rex Tillerson, selects Mike Pompeo as new Secretary of State
President Donald Trump asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to step aside, the White House confirmed Tuesday, replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
In a tweet, Trump thanked Tillerson for his service and said Pompeo “will do a fantastic job.”
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
The ouster ends months of discord between Trump and Tillerson, who often seemed out of the loop or in disagreement with the president on major foreign policy decisions. The president also named Gina Haspel as the new head of the CIA, pending the confirmation process. Those hearings are expected to dredge up debates about controversial interrogation tactics, like waterboarding, that might make her path to permanence a rocky one.
The exit was not a voluntary one, the State Department confirmed in a startling statement Tuesday. Tillerson “did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason” for his firing, Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said in a statement Tuesday morning, “but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve.”
Hours after Goldstein’s statement contradicting the White House’s account on Tillerson, a senior State Department official confirmed to NBC News that he had also been fired.
NBC News learned Tuesday from sources familiar with the situation that Chief of Staff John Kelly spoke with Tillerson by phone on Friday and told him that Trump intended to ask him to “step aside.” In that call — which came while Tillerson was traveling through Africa — Kelly did not specify when that change might come. Kelly also called Tillerson again on Saturday, a senior White House official said, expressing once again the president’s “imminent” intention to replace his secretary of state.
The Associated Press, citing senior State Department officials, reported Tuesday that Tillerson had been even more blindsided, saying that Kelly had warned him on that Friday call that there might be a tweet from the president coming that would concern him, but did not detail what the tweet might say or when it would post.
A senior State Department official told NBC that Tillerson officially found out that he had been fired when Trump tweeted the news that he’d been replaced.
Tillerson, said Goldstein, had “every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security.”
Trump regularly fires people who do not display total loyalty to him and Tillerson did not.
Tillerson once called Trump a “moron” disagreed with him on Putin, the Paris Climate Agreement, Iran Nuclear Deal, North Korea, moving the Jerusalem embassy, etc…