U.S. President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today and said he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him, ending Tillerson’s difficult tenure by tweeting an ouster that had been long expected and yet was shocking in its abruptness.
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
“We disagreed on things,” Trump said moments later, a diplomatic version of a difficult relationship with his top diplomat that included reports that Tillerson had called the president a moron in meetings with other officials.
Speculation that Tillerson would be fired grew with those reports last fall, and the secretary of state never personally denied their accuracy. It spiked again in November when White House officials told multiple news outlets of a plan to replace him with Pompeo. But Tillerson continued to hang on, pointing out that his doubters had yet to be proven right.
Though Trump and other officials said he’d been considering replacing Tillerson for some time, the president said he made the decision only recently and “by myself.” Tillerson will be “much happier now,” Trump said.
Dismissing Tillerson had been discussed at multiple levels for a long time, said a senior White House official, adding that the North Korea overture and invitation brought more urgency to the decision. Two officials said Trump wanted to have a new team in place ahead of an upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as well as trade talks.