President Trump on Tuesday announced he was replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and would nominate the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, to replace Pompeo.
Haspel would become the first woman to lead the spy agency if she is confirmed by the Senate.
Tillerson’s dismissal comes after months of reports that he and the president did not see eye-to-eye on several key foreign policy issues. Most recently, reports noted that Tillerson disagreed with the president’s decision to impose a 25-percent tariff on the importation of steel and aluminum from some countries.
Tillerson also recently stated that it was premature for Trump to sit down and talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, though Trump said he was prepared to do so.
Last year Tillerson said publicly that Trump should sit down and talk to Kim but Trump later said the time was not right. [source]
Additional reported noted that Tillerson was not aware of the reason for his dismissal and that he found out from Trump’s tweet on the subject this morning.
A statement from Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said: “The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning 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 and not to be regretted.” He also added that Tillerson had “every intention of staying” before his firing.
“He established and enjoyed relationships with his counterparts. He will miss his colleagues at the Department of State and enjoyed working together with the Department of Defense in an uncommonly robust relationship,” he said. [source]
Analysis: I read various open-source reporting in recent weeks strongly suggesting that Tillerson’s days were numbered in the Trump administration, but had discounted many of them because they were published by news sources that had proven to be wrong about other Trump administration alleged developments. Still, this does not surprise me simply because there have been reports dating back to the earliest days of the Trump presidency that the two men did not agree on a number of foreign policy issues, and that Tillerson had actually been left out of the loop on several occasions.
Trump’s first year has been tumultuous, without a doubt, but it’s also been productive in terms of realigning U.S. interests throughout the world and reasserting American leadership in important parts of the world where allies had all but determined America was in decline and self-absorbed. For his part, Tillerson was responsible for a great deal of the reassurance and realignment of American presence and leadership — in Europe, in Asia, and the Indo-Pacific.
As for Pompeo, he’s a former congressman from Kansas who was a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a chairman of that panel’s subcommittee on the CIA, so his appointment to that agency was logical. That experience should serve him — and the country — well as America’s top diplomat.
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