• Names CIA boss as new Secretary of State
United States President Donald Trump yesterday dramatically sacked his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and named current Criminal Investigation Agency (CIA) boss, Mike Pompeo to succeed him, ending a rocky tenure by the Texas oilman who had been sidelined on the world stage by the mercurial president.
Tillerson, who returned before dawn (Tuesday) from Nigeria, did not speak to the president before his sacking was announced and was unaware of the reason for his sudden downfall, according to a top aide.
Tillerson’s deputy, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steven Goldstein had said in a statement that Tillerson had “had every intention of staying. The Secretary did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve,” Goldstein added. He was later fired himself.
With Goldstein gone, the State Department has only one permanent undersecretary in place out of six. The other, Undersecretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, plans to retire when his successor is confirmed. Two additional nominees are pending approval by the senate.
A senior White House official said the president wanted to reshuffle his team with a view to launching talks with North Korea, following last week’s spectacular announcement of a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Trump had scant words of praise for Tillerson, who had long been rumored to be about to be pushed out. “A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well,” Trump said, thanking Tillerson “for his service.”
But addressing reporters before leaving on a trip to California, Trump spoke openly of his disagreements with the former Exxon chief, including over the Iran nuclear deal as he explained his decision to replace him.
Trump said that he and Tillerson had been “talking about this for a long time” but that he “made the decision by myself. We disagreed on things.” He cited the Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran. “I think Rex will be much happier now,” he declared.
“We got along actually quite well but we disagreed on things,” Trump added. “When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible, he thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently. So we were not really thinking the same.”