This post has been updated.
By Jackson Richman
President Donald Trump fired Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State on Tuesday and will replace him with CIA director Mike Pompeo, who will be replaced by his deputy, Gina Haspel, who, if confirmed, will be the first female CIA director.
Pompeo would need to undergo another confirmation vote to lead Foggy Bottom.
The Washington Post first reported the move.
The firing comes amid policy differences between the former Exxon Mobil CEO and president, such as the former supporting the Paris Climate Agreement, from which the administration announced it would withdraw, and for fixing instead of nixing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Tillerson was even denied his first choice for his deputy, foreign policy wonk Elliot Abrams, because of the latter’s criticism of Trump during the 2016 election.
“We were not really thinking the same,” the president said to reporters as he was on his way to board a helicopter to Saint Andrews Air Force Base, where he will travel on Air Force One to California to explore prototypes for his southern border wall.
The State Department said that Tillerson was unaware of the pending move and did not speak to the president when he made the decision. “The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security,” State Department Under Secretary Steve Goldstein said. “He will miss his colleagues at the Department of State and the foreign ministries he has worked with throughout the world.”
Additionally, tension grew between the president and the secretary of state last October when the latter reportedly called the former a “moron.”
“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
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
Haspel is a long-time CIA employee who has run the agency’s prisons in Thailand and other places abroad and supports interrogation tactics like waterboarding. She helped execute an order to destroy the CIA’s waterboarding videos in 2002. This prompted a Department of Justice investigation which ended without charges.
“This is a completely unsurprising development,” John Sitilides, a geopolitical strategist at Trilogy Advisers and a diplomacy consultant to the State Department, told The National Discourse. “For months, it has been public knowledge that President Trump preferred a Secretary of State more closely aligned with his national security and foreign policy agenda.”
“The growing disagreements with former Secretary Tillerson since last summer over the Iran nuclear agreement, negotiations with North Korea and broader relations with Russia, coupled with the lack of clear responses to increasingly aggressive Chinese political and economic policies, reached a breaking point,” Sitilides added. “In Mike Pompeo, President Trump believes he has a tough, focused and effective leader who shares his thought process on the overarching international issues confronting America and our allies.”