The contentious relationship has come to an end and President Donald Trump strikes again, firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
White House confirmed Tuesday morning that Tillerson will be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. According to reports, Tillerson has not spoken to the President and is still unaware of why he got the boot. In fact, it is possible that Tillerson found out the same way the rest of the world did…through this tweet below:
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
Several aides have insinuated that Tillerson may have known something was up since he left his overseas trip in Africa earlier than expected. Plus, Tillerson was not a part of Trump’s shocking announcement that he has decided to meet with Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea.
This ends months of discord between the two and the disagreements that languished between them and Trump’s constant attempts to undercut Tillerson’s authority.
Trump’s administration already had seen an unprecedented wave of departures, including a chief of staff, a national security adviser and a cabinet secretary. However, his core national security team was — Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his second national security adviser, H.R. McMaster — who were viewed by Republicans and even many Democrats as a pillar of stability in an otherwise chaotic government.
Even so, Trump has at times appeared to undercut Tillerson’s message on some of America’s most sensitive national security challenges, including Iran and North Korea. Tillerson also has publicly complained about the White House blocking him from making key appointments. It was reported that he even called the President a “moron.”
Later, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert flatly denied that Tillerson called Trump a moron. She also said Tillerson hasn’t said sorry to Trump, as no apology was needed.
Tillerson sought to broach the story in the typically somber and methodical manner he has approached being secretary of state. He framed his response as a defense of Trump’s entire “America First” foreign policy, and his own place within that strategy. He also noted the diplomatic successes of Nikki Haley, Trump’s U.N. ambassador, with whom he has been privately clashing for several months.
“President Trump’s foreign policy goals break the mold of what people traditionally think of what is achievable,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson appeared most frustrated that talk of his resignation is persisting despite previous denials.
“I have answered that question repeatedly. For some reason, it continues to be misreported,” he said.
Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Tillerson “is in an incredibly frustrating place.”
Corker, who has criticized Trump’s leadership, told reporters that Tillerson “ends up not being supported in the way that I would hope a secretary of state would be supported.”
Corker said Tillerson, Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly are “those people that help separate our country from chaos.”