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Excerpt: "President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday morning in a tweet that followed a year of frequent tension between the two leaders."

U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson speaks to staff members at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in Geneva, Switzerland, October 26, 2017. (photo: Alex Brandon/Reuters)
U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson speaks to staff members at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in Geneva, Switzerland, October 26, 2017. (photo: Alex Brandon/Reuters)

Trump Ousts Tillerson, Will Replace Him as Secretary of State With CIA Chief Pompeo

By Philip Ewing and Scott Horsley, NPR

13 March 18


resident Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday morning in a tweet that followed a year of frequent tension between the two leaders.

Trump said he is nominating CIA director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson's replacement, which requires confirmation by the Senate.

"Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time ... we got along quite well but we disagreed on things," Trump told reporters at the White House. "We were not really thinking the same ... with Mike, we have a very similar thought process."

Trump and Tillerson are described as talking often, though Trump has frequently appeared to catch the top diplomat off guard on major foreign policy decisions.

A White House official says the president wanted to have a new team in place in advance of upcoming talks with North Korea and ongoing trade negotiations.

Tillerson, who was traveling in Africa last week, was caught flat footed when the surprise announcement came that Trump had accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Just a day earlier, he'd told reporters that negotiations were a long way off.

Trump has tapped Gina Haspel, Pompeo's former deputy and a CIA veteran, to take the helm of the spy agency.

Haspel did not require Senate confirmation to serve in her deputy role but will to serve as the full-fledged director of the agency. Her hearing could exhume many CIA demons about the torture of terror suspects and the secret detention program that followed the 2001 terror attack.

Tillerson, the former boss of petrogiant ExxonMobil, didn't know Trump before 2016 — and their relationship seemed to eventually break after months of disputes over policy, embarrassing leaks and a few public humiliations by the president himself.

White House officials on Nov. 30 cranked up the pressure on Tillerson with an apparent targeted leak to The New York Times. It revealed the existence of a secret plan by chief of staff John Kelly to force out Tillerson and replace him with Pompeo.

Trump would then nominate Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to replace Pompeo, according to the Times. As it happened, Cotton is not getting the nomination to lead the CIA, after all.

The report took care to say that the plan was "tentative" and Trump hadn't yet approved it, but the message to the State Department's headquarters in Foggy Bottom in Washington, D.C., was clear: the White House was finished with Tillerson and wanted him out.

That story followed other evidence that the relationship between the president and the nation's top diplomat was barely functional.

Tillerson said he would not resign in October after an NBC News report said Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" in July after a tense meeting at the Pentagon. Tillerson declined to deny it publicly, and Trump retorted to Forbes magazine that he was ready to compare "I.Q." tests — "and I can tell you who's going to win."

Trump also undermined Tillerson's efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the situation in North Korea. As Tillerson kept up support for talks with Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Trump said on Twitter Oct. 1 that Tillerson was "wasting his time."

"Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!" Trump wrote.

It was about five months later that Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Tillerson had also distanced himself from what critics have called Trump's equivocation between neo-Nazis and counter-protesters, who clashed over a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, Va.

Tillerson appeared Aug. 27 on Fox News Sunday and was asked by host Chris Wallace about the way the international community views the United States following Trump's controversial comments about the protesters and counter-protesters in the wake of deadly violence in Charlottesville.

"We express America's values from the State Department," Tillerson said. And later: "The president speaks for himself, Chris."

Tillerson's departure makes him the latest member of Trump's inner circle in the administration to step down roughly ten months into Trump's term — following a series of White House aides, starting with national security adviser Mike Flynn, continuing on to chief strategist Steve Bannon, press secretary Sean Spicer and chief of staff Reince Priebus — who have left their posts amid administration turbulence.

Tillerson is the second Cabinet official to resign, following former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was ousted over a travel expense scandal. Tillerson leaves behind a State Department that critics have called a shadow of its former self because of Tillerson's disconnection from the department and the White House's antipathy toward appointing or keeping top talent in the nation's diplomatic ranks.

Some ambassadorships around the world and other top jobs at the department's Foggy Bottom headquarters remained vacant.

And speculation has swirled for so long that Tillerson might quit that this isn't the first wave of discussion about prospective replacements. A previous go-round centered on Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and former governor of South Carolina. The New York Times reported there was tentative talk that President Trump might appoint his daughter, Ivanka, as Haley's replacement at the U.N.

For now, Haley remains in her post in New York and the Ivanka narrative appears to have cooled.

Tillerson's tenure as America's top diplomat was unlikely. Trump interviewed other, more conventional candidates, including 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but he ultimately gave the nod to the Texas oilman Tillerson based on a recommendation from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Tillerson told interviewers early on that he hadn't been looking for the job and was "stunned" to get Trump's offer — but his wife, Renda St. Clair, sold him.

"'I told you God's not through with you,' " as Tillerson recounted his wife's remarks.

Tillerson had no governmental experience; he went to work in 1975 for Exxon Co., as it was then known, as an oil production engineer. But, having risen to become CEO of the descendant ExxonMobil, he effectively served as a kind of head of state of his own — not only running the energy behemoth, but also conducting its foreign policy across the globe in all the places it drilled or refined or conducted other operations.

That work brought Tillerson into contact with all manner of leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, who awarded him Russia's Order of Friendship in 2008. Trump and Tillerson met with Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Germany in June, and then Tillerson continued follow-up negotiations with Russia until his departure from office.

As secretary of state, Tillerson belonged to a cadre of leaders who sometimes preceded Trump on international travel to assuage allies' concerns about him. Or they returned after his visits to try to smooth things over.

Tillerson, Vice President Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis and others emphasized conventional points about American commitment to allies, to international norms and other longstanding points — often after Trump appeared willing to flout them.

At the same time, Tillerson stayed in lockstep with the president on many matters of policy. He defended to the State Department press corps, for example, the realism that he said underpinned the administration's new strategy focused on Afghanistan, which amounted to the new goal of playing to a draw.

"I think the president was clear this entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Taliban to have the Taliban understand: You will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you," he said.

At the same time, however, the new Afghanistan strategy will remain one of Tillerson's most significant elements of unfinished business. It depended upon a broad new diplomatic campaign across South Asia involving pressure on India and Pakistan to help with a good outcome in Afghanistan — even though, at the time, the United States did not have active ambassadors in India or Afghanistan. your social media marketing partner


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+10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-13 09:01
From bad to worse. The Trump saga ambles on.

We can see a clear take-over of the civilian and professional jobs in the executive branch by military and intelligence people. Pompeo is a West Point Graduate and served in the Army for most of his career before running for congress. Under Trump, it may be that most of the executive branch is filled with military types.

But it is not just Trump. Jimmy Dore has a good show on the astonishing number of ex-CIA and military running for democratic seats in congress in the 2018 elections. The CIA and military are taking over the positions in government we always thought were civilian.

I'm not saying this is automatically all bad. There are some terriffic military veterans in office (Tulsi Gabbard and others). And ex-CIA John Kiriakou should be Sec. of State. But unfortunately, these are not the kind of people being appointed by Trump or supported by the DNC and DCCC.
+3 # Benign Observer 2018-03-13 11:25
Yes, it seems likely Pompeo will fill the many vacancies at State with military (and now CIA) veterans.

Will they root out the Koch-rats who jumped on board in recent years, or the FBI-friendlies? Will there be any actual diplomats at the State Department?

Does not bode well for US diplomacy which, there are rumors, once existed. There HAVE been ideological Secretaries but Hillary might have been the first pure mercenary and Kerry is a neoliberal tool.

Curious about who will step in at the CIA. I hope this hurts morale .. again, but don't have confidence Trump will put in a cleaner or even a smart choice.
-2 # Farafalla 2018-03-13 15:31
OMG People, Never give thumbs up to this troll. Everything he posts is designed to divide and conquer, obfuscate, and otherwise confuse. He seeks legitimation by posting apparently benign things. Quoting Jimmy Dore is no chance thing here. I watch Dore a lot and find him to be one of those leftists confused on L'Affaire Russe.
+2 # librarian1984 2018-03-13 21:01
Jimmy Dore is a breath of sanity amid the hysteria of the msm and Clinton loyalists -- wasting time, energy and resources on eighty one kinds of bs instead of what matters -- winning the midterm elections. Did you believe Iraq had WMDs too?

So when Rodion posts something you disagree with you say s/he is a Russian troll, and when it's something you agree with s/he is just faking it? Sounds like the calculus of a Torquemada or Joe McCarthy, with a bit of Javert rolled in.

What strikes me is that IF Rodion were a troll, you seem fully capable of resisting his/her pitches, so what's the problem? You're not worried about Chinese provocateurs or Israelis, and you know they're not here because there's no one named Sun Tzu or Esau? Did you attack Correct the Record trolls too?

There is NO ONE here as obsessed as you. Your nagging is boring and you've NO BUSINESS deciding who anyone should vote for.

Try commenting about an article once in a while instead of attacking others why don't you? YOU ARE THE BIGGEST TROLL HERE, you tedious ignoramus.
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-14 06:28
Fara -- wake up. I'm not trying to divide anyone or conquer or obfuscate. I'm expressing my opinion just like you are. Jimmie Dore is very good. He sees the split in the democratic party between the followers of Clinton and the progressives who follow Sanders. That's what made him split off from the Young Turks. Now they really don't like each other. I did not cause that division. Divisions exist in life and we all have opinions about them.

You are correct, Dore does not believe the Russiagate stuff. I don't believe it either. You do believe it. We are all waiting for good solid evidence and a definitive proof. If history counts, as in the cases of 9-11, JFK, etc., we may never get anything like solid evidence and a definitive proof. To me, this is a fabricated scandal designed to divide people: keep some loyal to Clinton and make the hate Trump -- and maybe other on the left like me.

Divisions and disagreements are OK. They are life. Who said there could be no divisions in the Democratic party. Oh, yes, it was the DNC and the Clinton faction.
0 # Benign Observer 2018-03-14 10:22
Rodion, you have got this all wrong. You are not supposed to be reasonable or tolerate other's opinions. You are supposed to attack and accuse. And now, apparently, you are to rally others to attack the troll too.

Tell everyone to not vote for the other person. Say the person should not be allowed here, on an open forum.

Farafalla is not un-woke. Farafalla is deluded, believing s/he is the arbiter of public opinion. How easy life would be if we allowed Big Brother Farafalla to determine what we should all think, feel and do.

Here is my little poem, a tribute to our resident list-maker:

Oh! Farafalla! Oh! Wise One!
Please! Tell me what to believe!
Add me to your List, all seeing Farafalla!
Because you
Are on mine.
+9 # moreover 2018-03-13 09:11
Now that Tillerson lost his diplomatic immunity can we indict him for his environmental and climate crimes of his former company?
+10 # BetaTheta 2018-03-13 09:18
And so it goes in the most incompetent administration in the history of the Republic. Who would have thought, a couple of years ago, that the bizarre, reality-bending format of "reality shows" would become the template for government in the world's most powerful nation? Apparently this apprentice wasn't sufficiently fawning for the Boss.
-4 # Robbee 2018-03-13 17:32
Quoting BetaTheta:
And so it goes in the most incompetent administration in the history of the Republic. Who would have thought, a couple of years ago, that the bizarre, reality-bending format of "reality shows" would become the template for government in the world's most powerful nation? Apparently this apprentice wasn't sufficiently fawning for the Boss.

- mr. t also had unkind words for putin!
0 # Benign Observer 2018-03-14 10:24
Pure gold, Comrade Dickhead. But not as instructive as the way you stabbed Sanders in the back.
+4 # Wise woman 2018-03-13 10:34
Another one falls to the wayside. Trump's administration is like a line of dominoes. And the consideration of Ivanka to represent the US at the UN? The very thought of it is unbelievable. But then everything about trump is.
+14 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-03-13 10:43
We haven't won a war since WWII, but we keep throwing more and more money at the Military/Indust ry Complex. Something stinks/is fishy about the stranglehold they have on "our" government. WAKE UP AMERICA. VOTE as if your life depended on it. Seventeen years in Afghanistan has ONLY accomplished a tripling of the poppy crop. HHHMMMM?
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-13 11:32
Pablo -- "VOTE as if your life depended on it."

This is very good. Our lives and the lives of most humans (and animals) on earth depend on who is running the American regime. So far, life is losing.

Mabye at least we have the heroin to ease the pain.
+2 # Benign Observer 2018-03-13 11:41
Well, when you put it like that ....

There are FACTS and then there is the NARRATIVE fed to us by politicians and the media. Otherwise intelligent voters have bought a whole lot of bad narrative lately, almost entirely fueled by anti-Trump fervor, and I hope they get 'woke' before the Democrat establishment fails us in the midterms, because it's coming.

TPTB don't care about our lack of military 'success'; it's profit they are after and they're 'winning'. It would be an easy story to tell the American people how the military budget has stolen the American dream -- if the media outlets would let it out. Instead there is a long line of journalists who tried to speak against war and got fired, from CNN and MSNBC, among others: Phil Donaghue, Dylan Rattigan etc.

We're told it's unpatriotic to question our military adventures; many who need work, training or college are economically coerced to enlist; the media has agreed not to show us the bodies or talk about the atrocities; and military funding is funneled to every House district in the country.

The fix is well and truly in, and it is going to be difficult to detach this parasite. BUT the first military audit is about to begin.
+4 # laborequalswealth 2018-03-13 11:09
So Pompeo goes from the CIA to State. Well, State was already controlled by the CIA so I doubt if we will see much change.
0 # janie1893 2018-03-13 13:30
doubling the poppy crop has greatly supported the bubble of the military/indust rial economic success in the US. Stop building drones and dealing heroin and there would be widespread depression.
0 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-03-14 09:42
In tyrannical dictatorships, it is common practice to conduct random, irrational killings: this encourages everybody to keep their heads down, as no one knows where the next strike will be. Unpredictable chaos is thus a powerful control tool. Cf. Guatemala in the 1970’s & ’80’, Honduras, &c. In America at present, a similar programme is operating: chaos at the top; the packing of Cabinet with military has-beens & spooks, with Torture Princess Gina Haspell to lead the CIA; & the random killings are carried out by police against mostly Black & Hispanic men. Consider this.

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