In a major move just ahead of US-North Korea talks, President Donald Trump today ousted his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Trump had last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside. He had cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to the US, The Washington Post reported.
This is the most high-profile exit from Trump administration after former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation last year.
“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,” Trump announced on Twitter.
Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, he said.
She is the first woman to become the CIA Director.
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
In a statement issued to The Post, Trump praised both Pompeo and Haspel. “I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State,” Trump said.
“Mike graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the US 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,” the US President said.
Trump thanked Tillerson and wished him well. “Finally, 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,” he said in the statement.
Tillerson’s sacking represents the biggest shakeup of the Trump Cabinet so far and had been expected since last October when reports surfaced about a falling out between Trump and Tillerson, 65, who left his position as chief executive of Exxon Mobil to join the administration.
Trump publicly undercut Tillerson’s diplomatic initiatives numerous times, including on Monday when the former secretary of state’s comments about Russia appeared to be at odds with those of the White House.
Tillerson also appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with North Korea’s leader and become the first sitting U.S. president to do so.