“Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time.”
President Donald Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and will nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement.
The State Department’s statement said that Tillerson does not know why Trump let him go.
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
But why let go of Tillerson? Even he does not know:
Remarkable statement from State Department spokesman on Tillerson firing: pic.twitter.com/iBpLaK1tXw
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 13, 2018
Trump explained why he fired Tillerson as he exited the White House:
On the South Lawn Tuesday, Trump told reporters he was “close” to having the Cabinet he wanted, wishing Tillerson well while predicting “great” things from Pompeo in the State Department role.
“Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time,” the president said before boarding Marine One to head to California. While the two got along “well,” said Trump, “we disagreed on things.”
“We were not really thinking the same,” Trump said of Tillerson. “With Mike [Pompeo]…we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s gonna go very well.”
As for Tillerson, Trump thinks he “will be much happier now.”
I saw reports that Trump asked Tillerson to leave his post on Friday. Tillerson, while in Africa, canceled his events in Kenya and told others he didn’t feel well. He also then took a different route from the White House when he said the nerve agent that poisoned an ex-Russian spy in the UK came from Russia. From CNBC:
Tillerson, echoing the British government’s finger-pointing toward Moscow, said he didn’t yet know whether Russia’s government knew of the attack with a military-grade nerve agent, but that one way or another, “it came from Russia.” He said it was “almost beyond comprehension” why a state actor would deploy such a dangerous substance in a public place in a foreign country where others could be exposed.
“I cannot understand why anyone would take such an action. But this is a substance that is known to us and does not exist widely,” Tillerson told reporters as he flew from Nigeria to Washington. “It is only in the hands of a very, very limited number of parties.”
Fox News reported that a White House official told the network that Trump decided to make this move before he sits down with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The official noted that Trump “wanted to make sure to have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talks with North Korea and various ongoing trade negotiations.”
That’s odd because back in October Trump told Tillerson to stop “wasting his time” as the secretary tried “to negotiate with North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs.”
Trump chose CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to replace Pompeo. She will become the first female to head the spy agency. Trump told The Washington Post:
“I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State,” Trump said. “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.”
The president continued, “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.”
Trump also had words of praise for Tillerson: “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.”
WaPo published these statements from Pompeo and Haspel:
“I am deeply grateful to President Trump for permitting me to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for this opportunity to serve as Secretary of State,” Pompeo said in a statement. “His leadership has made America safer and I look forward to representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America’s prosperity. Serving alongside the great men and women of the CIA, the most dedicated and talented public servants I have encountered, has been one of the great honors of my life.”
Haspel in a statement also said she was excited for her promotion.
“After 30 years as an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, it has been my honor to serve as its Deputy Director alongside Mike Pompeo for the past year,” she said. “I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) praised Trump’s nomination of Pompeo. From The Washington Free Beacon:
“Mike Pompeo is an outstanding selection as our next Secretary of State,” Cotton said. “Mike’s deep understanding of world affairs, his clear-eyed view of the threats to our national security, and his key relationships with world leaders make him an excellent choice to be our top diplomat.”
Cotton also praised the selection of Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s deputy, to be the next CIA Director. Her nomination by Trump ends speculation that Cotton could be the next pick to lead the agency when Pompeo left.
“While it’s a loss for the CIA, Gina Haspel is also an excellent choice to become the new CIA Director,” Cotton said. “A true professional with decades of experience at the Agency, Gina has worked closely with Mike and the national-security team over the last year. I look forward to supporting them both during the confirmation process and working with them in the years to come.”
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