Tillerson Out, Pompeo In at State Department

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.”

“The Secretary did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling,” Goldstein added.
On Tuesday afternoon, the White House fired Goldstein for his contradictory remarks to the president’s words.

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!”

[Related: Pompeo to State: A Choice Like No Other]

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.”

[Related: John Sitilides on “The Discourse” podcast]

“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.”

About Jackson Richman 150 Articles
Jackson Richman is an editor at The National Discourse. His work has also been featured in The Weekly Standard, The Daily Caller, The Washington Examiner, Tablet, The Daily Signal, The College Fix, The Huffington Post, The Forward, and other outlets. He has interviewed prominent personalities such as, but not limited to, Pulitzer Prize winners Thomas Friedman and Charles Krauthammer, Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson, former State Department adviser David Makovsky, prominent American rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Iowa representative Steve King, FCC chairman Ajit Pai, Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, comedian Adam Carolla, University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer, and British historian and intellectual Niall Ferguson.