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Trump fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; CIA director named as replacement

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump unceremoniously dumped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday — via Twitter — and picked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to shift from America's spy chief to its top diplomat. The abrupt announcement ended the tenure of the man who reportedly called the president a "moron" but wanted to stay.

The plans to oust Tillerson had been drawn up months ago, but the timing caught even senior White House officials unawares. The firing was just the latest in an exodus of administration officials, including those in Trump's inner circle, with the president already setting records for staff turnover, and several other Cabinet secretaries facing ethics investigations.

However, Trump rejected talk of chaos in his year-old administration as he nears a pivotal moment on the international stage with his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He declared Tuesday: "I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want."

He said he was nominating the CIA's deputy director, Gina Haspel, to take over for Pompeo at the intelligence agency. If confirmed, Haspel would be the CIA's first female director

As for Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO whom Trump picked as his administration's top Cabinet official, the president said simply, "we disagreed on things."

Trump's change puts Pompeo, an ardent foe of the Iran nuclear deal, in charge of U.S. diplomacy as the president decides whether to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement. Tillerson has pushed Trump to remain and had been pursuing a delicate strategy with European allies and others to try to improve or augment the Obama-era deal to Trump's liking.

"We were not really thinking the same," said Trump.

In the view of current and former White House officials, Tillerson's "moron" comment to senior administration officials last summer — and the subsequent revelation in the press — permanently eroded trust between the two men.

Tillerson gave brief farewell remarks at the State Department, thanking department staff and diplomats around the world — but not mentioning Trump except to say that he'd spoken by phone to the president Tuesday while Trump was on Air Force One, hours after the tweeted firing.

There were conflicting stories on the circumstances of the firing.

Trump kept the timing to an unusually close circle that included Chief of Staff John Kelly and Vice President Mike Pence, officials said. Pompeo was brought into the White House on Friday after returning from an overseas trip and was offered the job formally by phone Saturday.

Kelly was given the task of phoning Tillerson, who was in Africa, but the nature of their conversation was up for dispute. White House officials said Kelly told Tillerson that Trump wanted a change and he should step down. Tillerson, the White House said, asked that Trump wait until he returned to the U.S., and he shortened his trip to Africa — where much of his mission revolved around softening the effect of Trump's recent reported criticisms.

However, Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein and other State Department officials said that Tillerson hadn't learned he was being dismissed until he saw Trump's early-Tuesday tweet and hadn't discussed it directly with the president. Goldstein said Tillerson was "unaware of the reason" he was fired and "had had every intention of staying," feeling he was making progress on national security.

That was the end for Goldstein. Hours later, he was fired, too.

Even after Tuesday's announcement, the White House and Tillerson aides were still struggling to determine when and how Tillerson would exit. Tillerson, in his final turn before the cameras, said he would be delegating his responsibilities to deputy secretary John Sullivan at the end of the workday and would resign effective at the end of the month.

"I will now return to private life, private citizen, a proud American, proud of the opportunity I've had to serve my country," he said.

From the start, the former Exxon chief had been an unlikely pick for top diplomat, with no formal experience but a lifetime's worth of personal relationships with heads of state and powerful global figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump had boasted to allies that he "looked the part" of the nation's chief diplomat, but differences in style and ideology quickly came to a head.

While he espoused unconventional views on the organization of the State Department — and made sweeping changes of the bureaucracy his top concern — Tillerson proved to be cut from the same cloth of the national security conservatives who have dominated the GOP for decades. He had been recommended for the post by Condoleezza Rice and James Baker.

Tillerson's insult to Trump's intelligence came after heated discussions about Afghanistan policy, in which Trump had pushed to end the U.S. presence altogether and flirted with outsourcing the military counterterrorism campaign to private contractors. Hours before his firing was made public, Tillerson vocally condemned Russia for allegedly poisoning an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom, even as the White House declined to assert blame.

Trump in recent days has told confidants that he feels emboldened, confident in his decisions to order new international trade on tariffs and to meet with Kim Jong Un and far less willing to put up with disloyalty around him, according to a person who has spoken to the president in recent days but was not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.

Tillerson's departure adds to a period of intense turnover within Trump's administration that has alarmed those both in and out of the White House. 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.

Trump has also faced a cloud of ethics allegations surrounding other members of his Cabinet, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin — the latter of whom is said to be on thin ice with the president.

Pompeo forged a close relationship with Trump as a regular presence in his presidential daily briefing. Current and former White House officials said Pompeo has proven more adept at negotiating the shifting power structures inside the administration and in reading and responding to the wishes of the president. Trump is also said to respect Pompeo's military background and West Point pedigree.

Pompeo, a former Republican congressman from Kansas, has already been confirmed by the Senate for his current role at the CIA, making it extremely likely that he will be confirmed for the State Department role.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas called Pompeo an "outstanding selection."

"Mike’s deep understanding of world affairs, his clear-eyed view of the threats to our national security, and his key relationships with world leaders make him an excellent choice to be our top diplomat," he said. "While it’s a loss for the CIA, Gina Haspel is also an excellent choice to become the new CIA Director. A true professional with decades of experience at the Agency, Gina has worked closely with Mike and the national-security team over the last year."

Reports surfaced last year that Trump was considering replacing Tillerson with Pompeo and that Cotton was being considered as a potential replacement to lead the CIA.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Comments

kt2235 says...

Attention all you Trump buds: if offered a job by the White House, RUN LIKE HECK THE OTHER WAY!!!!

Posted 13 March 2018, 8 a.m. Suggest removal

RBear says...

The revolving door at the WH. This is not good going into a negotiation with NK. This administration cannot keep those “great people” Trump talked about, mainly because he’s an idiot to work for.

Posted 13 March 2018, 8:01 a.m. Suggest removal

RBBrittain says...

Too bad Trump didn't send Tom Cotton to the CIA, as in the first rumors of Tillerson being replaced by Pompeo months ago. Then we'd have a Senate race this fall as well, with a chance of replacing Cotton with someone more reasonable.

Posted 13 March 2018, 8:03 a.m. Suggest removal

hah406 says...

The big problem was that Trump / Tillerson never got a team in place at State. There are loads of open ambassador positions, and the career diplomats are leaving like the place is on fire because of Trump.

Posted 13 March 2018, 8:18 a.m. Suggest removal

PopMom says...

At least Tillerson was not an extreme right reactionary. It's a shame that somebody reported him calling Trump a moron. At least, Mattis is hanging on.

Posted 13 March 2018, 8:25 a.m. Suggest removal

TimberTopper says...

Another one of the more sane people is gone.

Posted 13 March 2018, 8:48 a.m. Suggest removal

Retiredofit says...

Tillerson was a stabling influence on world events. Sending a former CIA director to do SoS, going to raise some eyebrows. It works for Putin.....oh sorry he’s a dictator. The President needs to get a permanent staff, and quit the shuffling. It ridiculous to have this much turnover. Yes I voted for trump and don’t regret it. I just wish he would get his defication coagulated.

Posted 13 March 2018, 9:01 a.m. Suggest removal

sjmays says...

Isn't it strange Tillerson spoke out about Russia and the poisoning in Great Britain yesterday when Trump hasn't made any comment on Russia at all. They are still reviewing the matter.

Posted 13 March 2018, 9:08 a.m. Suggest removal

GeneralMac says...

Anyone in favor of the Iran nuclear deal should never have been appointed to ANYTHING in the Trump administration.

How much money did Barack HUSSEIN Obama give to Iran ?

Posted 13 March 2018, 10:29 a.m. Suggest removal

mrcharles says...

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne:

trump is the red dragon,

Posted 13 March 2018, 10:38 a.m. Suggest removal

PopMom says...

GeneralMac,

It was Iran's money that had been frozen and was being adjudicated in court. Iran likely would have gotten more. Of course, the racist always has to bring up the black man again. So tiresome.

Posted 13 March 2018, 10:39 a.m. Suggest removal

23cal says...

This administration has more turnover than McDonalds. Either Trump hasn't been surrounding himself with the very best people as blathered and bloviated so loudly, or they are doing a sorry job of interviewing, vetting, and choosing, or the competent ones are deserting like rats leaving a sinking ship........or all of the above.

Posted 13 March 2018, 11:27 a.m. Suggest removal

Deadeye26 says...

Making America Great Again by pointing out the buffoons currently in charge of this "once" great nation.

Posted 13 March 2018, 11:48 a.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

If the reports are true that Tillerson was fired via text message, that's about as sh*tty as it gets. But that's also one big "if". Tillerson knew he had stepped in it when he made derogatory comments about President Trump. If you want to be fired from my organization be insubordinate and call me a moron in front of a customer. It will work every time.
.
Glad to see Mike Pompeo move over to Sec State. Pompeo is well known for kicking a$$ and taking names. He and Nikki Haley will be a dream time on foreign relations.
.
Hey 23cal - There is some truth to what you say. Nobody expected Donald Trump to win. His candidacy was viewed as something of a joke and publicity stunt for months. His campaign staff and advisors for the most part was made up of fringe players and wannabes because nobody in the establishment felt his candidacy had a snowball's chance in Miami. When President Trump defeated Hillary it was like a dog chasing a car that actually caught the car. The President assembled a rag tag staff consisting of political newcomers and unknowns many with little and/or improper vetting. The subsequent turmoil should not be surprising to anyone. It's simply a logical outcome of bringing in the consummate outsider, a citizen office holder.
.
And yet, the economy is booming, tax cuts are working, Neil Gorsuch on SCOTUS, North Korea coming to the table, ISIS badly beaten, the rule of law being respected, and operations within places like DHS, EPA, DOI, Ed Dept, etc., are being streamlined and working better for the people. Not a bad list of accomplishments for a ship that's sinking.

Posted 13 March 2018, 11:59 a.m. Suggest removal

PopMom says...

Packman,

Apparently, Tillerson got fired for stating that Putin's people poisoned the agents in Great Britain. Of course, Trump, the puppet, couldn't stand for that. His boss, Putin, might get upset.

Posted 13 March 2018, 12:15 p.m. Suggest removal

PopMom says...

Packman,

Pompeo called his Indian opponent a "turban topper" and called Obama a Muslim communist. Pompeo is going to face tough questions on issues involving Russia. He may not be confirmed.

Posted 13 March 2018, 12:28 p.m. Suggest removal

PopMom says...

The more I think about this, the more I think that Trump may really have stepped in dog poop. By firing his Secretary of State, there will be new confirmation hearings on issues involving Russia. The Senate is not the Trump lapdog that the house is. Oh, I cannot wait for the hearings!

Posted 13 March 2018, 12:39 p.m. Suggest removal

GDB58 says...

Not to worry folks, your check for doing nothing will still be in the mail next month

Posted 13 March 2018, 12:42 p.m. Suggest removal

BOLTAR says...

Trump's most positive trait is his inability to retain senior staff because these personal and personnel failures severely limit his capacity to accomplish whatever demented inspiration comes to him while tweeting on the toilet.

Posted 13 March 2018, 1:11 p.m. Suggest removal

GeneralMac says...

PopMom says.........." an called Obama a communist Muslim "

Barack HUSSEIN Obama......his name and his actions might lead one to that conclusion.

Posted 13 March 2018, 1:22 p.m. Suggest removal

hah406 says...

Well Mac, if we are going on names and actions, yours would lead me to conclude that you are a racist bigoted leader of the KKK who hides behind the bible and his southern Baptist heritage. Just saying, if we are going to judge people like that...

Posted 13 March 2018, 1:27 p.m. Suggest removal

BOLTAR says...

He knows the former President's name but conceals his own.

Posted 13 March 2018, 1:32 p.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

Hey PopSnob - If Obama isn't a Muslim, why did he change his name to Barak "Hussein" Obama from Barry Soreto?

Posted 13 March 2018, 2:32 p.m. Suggest removal

TimberTopper says...

Packy you and mac have completely lost it. Hopefully you each will get you diaper changed soon.

Posted 13 March 2018, 3:02 p.m. Suggest removal

3WorldState1 says...

This isn't the first high position person Trump has fired over Twitter. Just think about how classless this is. The President of the United States firing the Secretary of State by Twitter. We know he did because Rex said when he spoke to the President about it - Three hours after the Tweet. What a fing douche bag this guy is.
Pompeo seems like an ass.
Remember when Trump the liar said Rex getting fired was fake news two weeks ago? Just remember this. Everything Trump calls fake news, it means it's most certainly not.
Pack, you mean the stimulus package the Republicans passed with full employment and a record stock market? Those republicans are super smart and really care about the debt and deficit. And now who pays for that? You guessed it. People on Medicare, medicaid and the rest of the poor. Republicans are so smart and nice to the poor. Jesus would be proud.

Posted 13 March 2018, 3:08 p.m. Suggest removal

RBear says...

Yep, with Pack’s latest comment he has proven how far out into BSC land as you can get. Totally irrational. No longer has any credibility.

Posted 13 March 2018, 3:34 p.m. Suggest removal

BOLTAR says...

I recall a basketball player changed his name to Meta World Peace. Therefore, he must now be a Druid Quaker.

Posted 13 March 2018, 3:50 p.m. Suggest removal

ARMNAR says...

Queenie is back and crazier than ever.

And GM is still bucking for that "Grand Wizard" title.

The more things change...

Posted 13 March 2018, 3:59 p.m. Suggest removal

BoudinMan says...

Just more of the trump stability and calming influence at the White House. There haven't been so many people running our of that place since the British set it on fire. Now we're gonna get lap dog Pompeo, aka the Benghazi Beast inquisitor, as SOS. I'm gonna grab me some popcorn.

Posted 13 March 2018, 4:38 p.m. Suggest removal

BoudinMan says...

Oh yeah, trump's personal assistant was tossed out of the White House on his azzz as a result of a Secret Service led investigation. He couldn't even go back in to get his coat. Financial irregularities, or some such honorable thing. I'm so surprised trump had someone so criminal, allegedly, so close to him. Wait, I forgot about Flynn, Popodop, Gates, Porter, and on and on.

Posted 13 March 2018, 4:46 p.m. Suggest removal

ARMNAR says...

"Soreto?"

You'd think that someone who'd judge another solely on the basis of his or her name would know to research the spelling of aforementioned name prior to posting about it.

You'd think.

Posted 13 March 2018, 5:50 p.m. Suggest removal

RBBrittain says...

Stop bringing up Obama's middle name; he got it from his father, who was a lapsed Muslim. And Soetero was his stepfather's last name; he obviously reverted to his birth name once his mom and stepdad divorced. Reverting to his birth father's middle name doesn't make him a Muslim any more than the Libertarian candidate for 1st District Congress owns Graceland by legally changing his name to Elvis Presley.

Posted 13 March 2018, 5:57 p.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

Hey Timber, RBear, and amgoo - Can you possibly be bigger morons? I asked Pop a question to illustrate the absurdity of her obsession with conspiracy theories regarding President Trump and Vladimir Putin. You dipsh*ts unwittingly helped prove my point. Thanks. Please keep up the good work.

Posted 13 March 2018, 5:58 p.m. Suggest removal

DontDrinkDatKoolAid says...

This thread too, is so entertaining.

Posted 13 March 2018, 6:05 p.m. Suggest removal

RBBrittain says...

So now there's reports of Trump wanting to replace the VA secretary with Rick Perry. Perhaps there will be enough musical chairs for Tom Cotton to work for him after all? Though if anyone in the GOP thought it out they would wait till after early July (four months before the election) so Asa's appointee will serve the remainder of Cotton's term, instead of putting another Senate seat on the November ballot. (That may well be why he didn't get the CIA job he wanted.)

Posted 13 March 2018, 6:09 p.m. Suggest removal

RBear says...

Pack I know you have this problem with reading comprehension so I'll just chalk it up to someone who has a hard time understanding what people say. That wasn't what we're referring to. I'll leave it at that as any more elaboration will just confuse you even more.
...
As if the madness in the Beltway wasn't enough, now we find Trump is considering shifting Perry from Energy to VA. Sounds like he's not pleased with Gov., er Sec., Goodhair as we liked to call him in TX. You would think if Trump had appointed the best people they would have more staying power. What is even worse is the number of position unfilled because either a) the candidate has severe problems, b) the position was vacated by one of those "great people," or c) there isn't anyone appointed.

Posted 13 March 2018, 6:23 p.m. Suggest removal

RBBrittain says...

@RBear: I think it's more about getting rid of VA Secretary David Shulkin, an Obama holdover under his own ethics cloud. Trump still likes Perry, for now.

Posted 13 March 2018, 6:55 p.m. Suggest removal

RBear says...

RBB agree, but moving to VA is sort of a downgrade from Energy for someone from an energy state.

Posted 13 March 2018, 7:18 p.m. Suggest removal

ARMNAR says...

Soreto.

Shinall.

Sad.

Posted 13 March 2018, 8:07 p.m. Suggest removal

DontDrinkDatKoolAid says...

John Bolton is on the short list for the next Secretary of State.

Posted 13 March 2018, 9:40 p.m. Suggest removal

carpenterretired says...

Well folks have to credit Mac for being honest and open about his racist character , while for the old duck hunter( true the brightest guy in the turnip truck )when it comes to race Mac is more honest. Folks after all Ranger Tom's hard work on Trump's buttocks he did not get his reward of CIA director, well as Jed Bush said" stuff happens".

Posted 13 March 2018, 10:14 p.m. Suggest removal

ARMNAR says...

Interesting how not one of General Mac's conservative Republican compatriots has condemned his flagrant racism.

I think we can all agree on what this means.

Posted 13 March 2018, 10:20 p.m. Suggest removal

Dontsufferfools says...

I find it sort of rich that the Trump got to fire the former Exxon Mobil CEO. Tillerson, whose short stint as SoS allowed him to divest hundreds of millions in Exxon Mobil stock sans capital gains, was reportedly unable to refrain from showing his disdain for Trump. Trump's foul speech to the Boy Scouts particularly angered Tillerson, who was on the group's board.
Pompeo is apparently ambitious, and now he's in the line of succession. Can't figure out how he elbowed out Haley for the job.

Posted 13 March 2018, 11:12 p.m. Suggest removal

Slak says...

Flamingos are the red dragon.
Trump is one of the two witnesses, a prophet slain for revealing the truth to the world.
Soulless progressives crucify him daily.

Posted 14 March 2018, 12:20 p.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

Hey amgoo - Interesting in the same way not one of your compatriots has EVER condemned you for calling Sarah Sanders a "whore". The difference is you plainly and proudly and repeatedly have called Sarah a "whore" while General Mac's comments are only racist to a racist.

Posted 14 March 2018, 1:47 p.m. Suggest removal

3WorldState1 says...

Think if your boss fired you by Twitter. Would you think he was professional? Would you think he was a "man". Trump is a coward and a douche.
Speaking of douche bags - Bolton? OMG. Yeah, he did so well during the Bush years.

Posted 14 March 2018, 2:34 p.m. Suggest removal

PopMom says...

Angus King, Independent from Maine, just stated that he is not sure that he can support Pompeo as Secretary of State. The questioning on whether Russia meddled with the election should be fun.

Posted 15 March 2018, 6:44 a.m. Suggest removal

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