President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Tillerson, saying Tuesday that he will replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Gina Haspel, a longtime CIA official and currently the deputy director, will be nominated to become CIA director. She would be the first woman to do so. Both Pompeo and Haspel must be confirmed by Congress.
Trump announced the move via 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Tillerson’s departure has long been expected. He and Trump never bonded, and even many outside the administration questioned Tillerson’s suitability for the job.
Before departing the White House for California, Trump explained that he and Tillerson just weren’t on the same page:
Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got along, actually, quite well but we disagreed on things. When you look at the Iran deal; I think it’s terrible, I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently.
So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well. Rex is a very good man. I like Rex a lot. I really appreciate his commitment to service and I’ll be speaking to Rex over a long period of time . . . I actually got along well with Rex, but really it was a different mindset, a different thinking.
A spokesman for Tillerson told the Washington Post he “had every intention of staying” in his job and was “unaware of the reason” for his firing. The White House, but apparently not Trump, told Tillerson Friday that he would be leaving. Tillerson was traveling in Africa, and he cut the trip short.
A White House official Tuesday put out word that Trump wanted to have a new team in place before starting talks with North Korea and before he begins to embark on other discussions related to trade.
Haspel may be a controversial choice. While she has received rewards for her service, questions have been raised about her involvement with CIA detention sites. Nevertheless, despite his past conflicts with the agency, Trump has decided on what would appear to amount to a status quo choice by choosing from within its ranks.
For Tillerson, the announcement via Twitter amounts to a pretty unceremonious dumping. Usually with these things, there’s a small event at the Whtie House where the president and both the incoming and outgoing people make remarks and everyone pretends to be happy about the situation.
Trump did issue a statement thanking Tillerson, at least. “I want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service. A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well,” Trump said.