In the latest development in a chaotic White House, President Trump has removed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him. Gina Haspel has been tapped to replace Pompeo as the new CIA Director.
Sources claim President Trump asked Tillerson last Friday to step aside and the Secretary of State cut his trip to Africa short to return to Washington on Monday. However, Steve Goldstein, the undersecretary for public diplomacy, claims Tillerson found out he was fired by President Trump’s tweet Tuesday morning.
On Monday, Tillerson remarked that Russia was certainly involved in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent. The next morning, he was removed from his position.
Trump often clashed with Tillerson but also commended him for his work. “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.”
In a statement, Trump also praised Pompeo and Haspel: “I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State. Mike graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. 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. Gina Haspel, the Deputy Director of the CIA, will be nominated to replace Director Pompeo and she will be the CIA’s first-ever female director, a historic milestone. Mike and Gina have worked together for more than a year, and have developed a great mutual respect.”
Tillerson, who was the former ExxonMobil CEO, was controversial from the beginning. The Trump administration proposed a 30 percent budget cut to the State Department and forced out senior diplomats, as well as failing to nominate or obtain Senate confirmation for many of the agency’s roles.
Tillerson also had ties to Russia and was given Russia’s Order of Friendship medal in 2013. Mike Pompeo has repeatedly downplayed Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and cited the Wikileaks dump to attack former Secretary Hillary Clinton during the campaign.
New CIA director Gina Haspel isn’t without controversy, either. She participated in the torture of two terrorism suspects and also helped destroy evidence of the brutal interrogations at a secret prison in Thailand.