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Trump fires Secretary of State Tillerson, taps CIA director Pompeo

China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-03-13 22:46
Trump's official twitter page. 

US President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday after a series of public rifts, replacing his chief diplomat with loyalist CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Trump tapped the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, to replace Pompeo at the intelligence agency.

“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!” Trump said on Twitter.

Steve Goldstein, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, said in a statement on Tuesday that Tillerson did not speak directly to Trump and ``is unaware of the reason’’ he is being replaced. "The secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security,’’ he said in the statement.

According to Politico, a senior White House official said Trump wanted Tillerson out so he could have his new team in place before upcoming talks with North Korea. The president agreed last week to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The resignation 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 CEO 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.

On Oct 4, NBC News reported that Tillerson called Trump “a moron” during a meeting with top officials over the summer. Tillerson did not dispute whether he called Trump “a moron”. But State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that “the secretary does not use that type of language.”

Attacking the reporting as “phony,” Trump later said he appreciated Tillerson’s comments and that he had “total confidence in Rex.”

But less than a week later, he suggested in a Forbes magazine interview that if the story were true, he should “compare IQ tests” with Tillerson. “And I can tell you who is going to win,” he added.


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