President Trump fires Rex Tillerson: Live updates
Trump didn’t feel like Tillerson had his back lately, sources say
From CNN’s Kaitlan Collins
President Trump has wanted Mike Pompeo as his secretary of state for months now — and the White House began planning for him to take this job last fall.
Trump’s anger at Tillerson after it leaked that he called him “a moron” never subsided, and many in the White House saw their differences as irreconcilable.
Tillerson had few, if any, allies left in the West Wing. Though Chief of Staff John Kelly was initially on his side when he took over, he eventually grew weary of defending him — especially after the “moron” remark, which Kelly saw as insubordination on Tillerson’s part.
So why now?
Sources close to the President say it was clear Tillerson didn’t support Trump. They say Tillerson wanted to handle foreign policy his own way, without the President. Trump didn’t feel that Tillerson backed him, source says.
Why this move, at this moment, is interesting
It was just last week that we learned President Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
The talks would be the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader. They will take place by May, according to South Korea’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong.
What Tillerson said about this
Tillerson on Friday said Trump’s decision to meet with Kim Jong Un “was not a surprise in any way.” This came less than a day after the secretary of state said conditions were not yet ripe for negotiations with North Korea.
Speaking to reporters while on his week-long tour of Africa, Tillerson explained the sudden shift by saying it was “a decision the President took himself” after having the matter “on his mind for quite some time.” It followed a “fairly dramatic” change in posture from Kim, he added.
Today we learned that it was on that same day last week that Trump asked Tillerson to step aside.
Trump asked Tillerson to step aside on Friday
From CNN’s Boris Sanchez
A senior administration official told CNN that President Trump asked Tillerson to step aside on Friday.
“POTUS thought it was the right time for the transition with the upcoming North Korea talks and various trade negotiations. POTUS asked Tillerson to step aside on Friday,” the source said.
Mike Pompeo says he’s “deeply grateful”
President Trump is tapping CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be the new secretary of state, replacing Rex Tillerson.
In a brief statement sent to the press, Pompeo said he was “grateful” to have worked for the CIA.
Here’s his full statement:
“I am deeply grateful to President Trump for permitting me to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for this opportunity to serve as Secretary of State. His leadership has made America safer and I look forward to representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America’s prosperity.
Serving alongside the great men and women of the CIA, the most dedicated and talented public servants I have encountered, has been one of the great honors of my life. I am proud of the work we have done on behalf of America and know that the Agency will continue to thrive under the leadership of Gina Haspel.
If confirmed, I look forward to guiding the world’s finest diplomatic corps in formulating and executing the President’s foreign policy. In my time as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, I have worked alongside many remarkable Foreign Service officers and Department of State leaders serving here in the United States and on the very edge of freedom. I know I will learn from them and, as President Trump set out in his State of the Union Address, work hard to ensure that ‘our nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.'”
Trump on Pompeo: “I urge his swift confirmation”
Here’s the President’s statement that the White House just sent out about Mike Pompeo:
“I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State. Mike graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.
As Director of the CIA, Mike has earned the praise of members in both parties by strengthening our intelligence gathering, modernizing our defensive and offensive capabilities, and building close ties with our friends and allies in the international intelligence community. I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture. He will continue our program of restoring America’s standing in the world, strengthening our alliances, confronting our adversaries, and seeking the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
His experience in the military, Congress, and as leader of the CIA have prepared him well for his new role and I urge his swift confirmation.
Gina Haspel, the Deputy Director of the CIA, will be nominated to replace Director Pompeo and she will be the CIA’s first-ever female director, a historic milestone. Mike and Gina have worked together for more than a year, and have developed a great mutual respect.
Finally, I want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service. A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well.”