President Donald Trump has removed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and replaced him with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, after months of speculation surrounding Tillerson's role in the Trump administration, a fact that Tillerson found out at the same time as the public.
"Pompeo has a sort of hard-line approach on foreign policy that's quite black and white, and that's also how Trump sees the world", Ilan Goldenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security who worked at the State Department under then-Secretary John Kerry, said in an interview in December.
Tillerson's departure capped months of friction between the Republican president and the 65-year-old former Exxon Mobil chief executive, who had no diplomatic or political experience before becoming secretary of state.
Tillerson leaves behind a short-lived and mixed legacy at the State Department, where he sometimes ran afoul of the White House and stoked criticism for his handling of the department.
One woman, Meroe Park, technically served as acting Central Intelligence Agency director for three days before Pompeo took over in 2017, but Haspel would be the first director if the Senate confirms her appointment.
Tillerson had just returned from a shortened trip to Africa hours before Trump's announcement.
Additional questions to be answered: What will the Trump administration and USA allies South Korea and Japan offer to North Korea if it is willing to denuclearize? "When you look at the Iran deal, I think it's awful and he thinks it's okay", Trump said. Trump tweeted at 8:44 a.m. EST.
Trump said he and Pompeo have "a similar thought process".
Trump has been mulling plans to replace Tillerson since at least September, according to one administration official.
President Trump to replace Tillerson with Pompeo. He "did not speak to the president this morning and is unaware of the reason" for his firing, the spokesman added.
Tillerson also appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with North Korea's leader and become the first sitting USA president to do so. "Congratulations to all!" Trump said on Twitter.
The move comes less than a week after the Trump administration agreed to a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "I wish him all the best in his future endeavors".
"He dived into policy matters in a way that unnerved many professionals at the agency", the official added,"and morale was taking a blow that was spreading from the analytical side, where some people feared he was tailoring some PDBs (President's Daily Briefs intelligence assessments presented to the president) to tell Trump what he wanted to hear rather than what the intelligence assessments were". Most pressing of all: what to do about North Korea?
Tillerson's reponse broke with the White House line, which stopped short of blaming Russian Federation for the attack. The president and his surrogates consistently criticized reports that Tillerson would not last long - reports that now appear to have been well-founded. Top economic adviser Gary Cohn announced his resignation last week, not long after communications director Hope Hicks and staff secretary Rob Porter both departed near the start of Trump's second year in office. "I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture".