Rex Tillerson fired as secretary of state, CIA chief picked as replacement
Rex Tillerson has been fired as secretary of state, President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning, ending a working relationship filled with tension and open disagreements.
Trump said he made the decision by himself and that Tillerson will be “much happier now.” CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been nominated to the post.
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 timing comes shortly after the president had agreed to talks with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un in the spring. Tillerson, the former Exxon executive, had been trying to find a neutral site for those talks.
The 65-year-old had also been in Africa over the weekend but cut the trip short by a day.
A top State Department official said Trump hadn’t told the head of the U.S. Department of of State why he was fired.
The undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, Steve Goldstein, said Tillerson “had every intention of staying” in the job because he felt he was making critical progress in national security.
Two White House officials said Tillerson was told he was out on Friday. The sources weren’t authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.
Tillerson assumed the job as the nation’s top diplomat in February 2017 but began clashing with the White House and President Donald Trump shortly thereafter.
In October, Tillerson reportedly called Trump a moron and by December leaks to the press said the White House had plans to force him out. The president called the reports “fake news.”
Pompeo is to be replaced at CIA by Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s deputy at CIA, Trump tweeted. She would be the first woman in that role.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.