WASHINGTON (AP) – Rex Tillerson is out as secretary of state. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that he’s naming CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson.
Pompeo is to be replaced at CIA by Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s deputy at CIA. She would be the first woman in that role.
Tillerson had just returned from a shortened trip to Africa hours before Trump’s announcement. Trump offered no explanation for the change.
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
Trump says he and Tillerson “disagreed on things.”
Trump cites their divergent opinions on the Iran nuclear deal. Iran agreed before Trump took office to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions. The president regularly criticizes the agreement as a bad deal and has repeatedly threatened to end it.
Trump spoke Tuesday of his desire to break the deal, but notes that Tillerson “felt a little bit differently, so we were not really thinking the same.”
Trump says he and Pompeo have a “very, very similar thought process.”
A top State Department official says Trump never explained Tillerson the reason why he was fired.
The undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, Steve Goldstein, says Tillerson “had every intention of staying” in the job because he felt he was making critical progress in national security.
Two White House officials said Tillerson was told he was out on Friday. The sources weren’t authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.
But Goldstein says Tillerson “did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason.”
Goldstein says Tillerson will miss his colleagues at the State Department and the foreign ministers he worked with.
Trump named Mike Pompeo, who had been CIA director, as his new secretary.
Goldstein said, “We wish Secretary Pompeo well.”
Haspel has extensive overseas experience and most recently has been deputy director of the CIA.
She briefly ran a secret CIA prison where accused terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002. That’s according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue.
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