Mike Pompeo To Replace Rex Tillerson As Secretary Of State, Gina Haspel Named New CIA Director
Rex W. Tillerson has been fired as Secretary of State.
Rex Tillerson Replacement News
President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the embattled former chief executive of Exxon Mobil would be leaving his post as Secretary of State, following a 14-month tenure that saw Tillerson disagree with other top administration officials about several important foreign policy issues.
“We were not really thinking the same,” Trump told reporters at the White House about the decision to oust Tillerson. The president added that he made the decision “by himself.”
Tillerson — who like Trump has had a close relationship with Putin, and even received a top honor from the Russian leader years ago — made news late last year when it was reported that he may have called Trump a “moron” at a meeting in July.
The announcement of Tillerson’s firing reportedly took several White House officials by surprise, and the Secretary of State did not receive a call from the president (it remains unknown exactly how Tillerson learned he was fired).
Trump announced in a tweet that CIA director Mike Pompeo would replace Tillerson to run the State Department, and that Gina Haspel — a veteran of the agency — would in turn replace Pompeo as the CIA’s top official.
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, 61, is the first woman selected to lead the CIA. Trump appointed her as the agency’s deputy director in February 2017, another role that had never previously been held by a woman.
There is already some controversy in the selection of Haspel as the new CIA director. Haspel allegedly ran a CIA prison in Thailand in the early 2000s where suspected terrorists were tortured in many different ways including sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and forcing objects down their throats.
Accused terrorists Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials. Haspel also allegedly helped carry out an order that the CIA destroy much of the evidence of torturing, including its waterboarding videos. The order prompted a long Justice Department investigation that ended without charges.
Trump has expressed support for harsher interrogation tactics.
On Monday — the same day the Houston Astros visited the White House to celebrate their 2017 World Series championship win — a White House spokesman berated a reporter for implying there was any kind of split between Tillerson and other officials due to contradicting remarks on Russian involvement in the poisoning of a man in Great Britain.
Administration officials also stated that Trump chose the timing was right to replace Tillerson because he wished to have a new foreign policy team in place before meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The president also wanted a new chief diplomat to help deal with ongoing trade negotiations.
Both Pompeo and Haspel need to be confirmed by the Senate before officially taking their respective positions.
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, responded to the firing of Tillerson in a statement she posted on Twitter:
Whenever Secretary Tillerson’s successor goes into meetings with foreign leaders, his credibility will be diminished as someone who could be here today and gone tomorrow. https://t.co/DdyLCbpUiG
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) March 13, 2018
Last fall, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas — one of Trump’s closest Republican allies on Capitol Hill — was briefly considered to lead the CIA should Pompeo serve another role. However, the prospect later disappeared.
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 28: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to members of the security council during a meeting on nonproliferation of North Korea on April 28, 2017 in New York City. The growing threat of a nuclear North Korea is going to be the focus for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson while he chairs a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)