Rex Tillerson Is Out as Secretary of State, President Trump Replaces Him with CIA Chief Mike Pompeo
President Donald Trump confirmed on Twitter that he appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo to become the new secretary of state
The White House just had its latest high-profile shake-up.
President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Tuesday morning that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is out, and is being replaced by CIA director Mike Pompeo. Trump also confirmed that Gina Haspel will take over Pompeo’s job at the CIA, noting that she’s the first female to hold the position.
The State Department confirmed to CNN that Tillerson found out he was fired from Trump’s tweet. Two other sources told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan the same thing.
A senior White House official told Politico that Trump wanted a new team in place before he sits down with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May. Trump shocked many around the world when he abruptly announced last week that he would be the first president in history to meet with a sitting North Korean leader.
Tillerson spoke briefly about North Korea during a press conference in Nigeria on Monday, but gave no indication that it would impact his job, per Politico. Instead, he told reporters that U.S. officials had not yet heard any direct response from North Korea regarding Trump accepting their invitation, and said plans for the meeting are “in the very early stages.”
The news seemed to blindside Tillerson’s inner circle at the State Department, with one official, reached for comment as news broke, saying only, “Wow. I’ll have to call you back.”
Tillerson, the former head of ExxonMobil, has had a complicated relationship with the president since he took the job following Trump’s inauguration last year. Last fall, Tillerson made headlines after he reportedly called the president a “f—— moron” in a meeting. Afterwards, he hastily arranged a press conference at the State Department to reaffirm his commitment to Trump, and notably declined to address the comments specifically.
Trump later commented on the “moron” report, and offered to compare IQ tests with Tillerson.
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“I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests,” he said. “And I can tell you who is going to win.”
Trump spoke to reporters Tuesday shortly after tweeting news of Tillerson’s surprise departure, and acknowledged the two did not always see eye to eye.
“Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things,” he said, noting the Iran deal in particular.
Trump added that he and Pompeo have a more “similar thought process” and that he thinks their working relationship is “going to go very well.”
Tillerson’s ouster is the latest in a long line of resignations and firings within the Trump administration. Thirteen days ago, Trump’s communications director, Hope Hicks, handed in her resignation. A source told PEOPLE at the time that “she had enough.”
The Wall Street Journal also reported Tuesday that Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was also fired this week due to an unspecified security issue, and escorted out of the White House on Monday. A lesser known aide, the Journal reports McEntee’s duties included delivering messages to Trump in the White House residence, making sure clocks were set correctly and that he had markers for autographs.
Despite the abrupt departure, the Trump reelection campaign announced Tuesday that McEntee would be joining as a senior advisor, according to The Hill. McEntee initially joined the Trump campaign three years ago.