Trump Fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Nellie Chapman
March 13, 2018

The most public moment of shame came when Trump did not even bother to consult him - or any of his cabinet colleagues for that matter - before deciding to engage North Korea and accept the invitation to meet Kim Jong-un.

State Department spokesman Steve Goldstein said Tillerson had no plans to leave.

The tensions peaked last Autumn amid reports Mr Tillerson had called Mr Trump a "moron" and considered resigning. When you combine the countless number of questions and scenarios on the North Korea issue - and compound that with issues like renegotiating NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), the Iran nuclear deal, what to do about Syria, and the always complex challenge of Russia - President Trump needs a secretary of state he has confidence in. I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently. "So we were not thinking the same", Trump said.

Goldstein said, "We wish Secretary Pompeo well". Tillerson will be "much happier now", Trump said.

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".

It was telling that the White House announced the personnel moves through an increasingly common playbook: A leak, a tweet and written statements from those involved.

"Pompeo was the most political Central Intelligence Agency director in memory", said an administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The news broke just hours after Tillerson debarked from a plane from a weeklong trip to Africa. The sensitive diplomacy would be the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the US and North Korea, which claims to have missiles capable of striking anywhere in the mainland U.S.

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Tillerson stoked resentment and criticism from some State Department employees for his controversial efforts to reform and pare down the department's bureaucracy, which some saw as a hollowing out of Foggy Bottom. S&P futures were last up 0.3 percent. Trump tweeted, "He will do a fantastic job!" He added, " want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service.

"Congratulations to all!" the president said.

Here is a partial list of officials who have been fired or quit since Trump took office on January 20, 2017, as well as people nominated by him for a position who did not take the job. 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.

There were also reports of unconventional meetings Pompeo held at the CIA, including with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group, and William Binney, a former National Security Agency whistleblower who claims someone with access to the Democratic National Committee leaked its data rather than Russian hackers.

If confirmed, Haspel would be the CIA's first female director.

A government outsider lacking diplomatic experience, Tillerson arrived at the White House after decades at Exxon Mobile, rising from engineer in 1975 to chairman and CEO in 2006, overseeing vast expansion of the company's operations worldwide.

Several months earlier in Beijing, Mr Tillerson told reporters the United States was directly communicating with North Korea but that Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.

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

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