Reporting from as early as October of last year that America’s top diplomat, Rex Tillerson, was being pushed out the door has finally been confirmed this week.
US President Donald Trump has fired his secretary of state, White House officials said on Tuesday, adding that CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been named as Tillerson’s replacement.
“I am proud to nominate the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new secretary of state,” Trump was quoted by The Washington Post as saying in a written statement. “Mike graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the US Army, and graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the US House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.”
The CIA’s deputy director Gina Haspel will be nominated to replace Pompeo, Trump said, and would be the first-ever female director of the agency, if confirmed.
Tillerson’s isolation from the White House, punctuated by highly publicized reports of him calling the president a “moron,” contrasted with the close relationship Pompeo built with the president since being appointed.
Politico described Pompeo’s especially influential role in the Trump White House last November, amid speculation as early as then that he would replace Tillerson.
Pompeo, the report said, advises Trump almost daily on a broad range of issues in “free flowing” intelligence briefings. Four mornings a week, the president seeks thoughts from the former House member on topics ranging from national-security threats to the dynamics of Congress.
The change in leadership at the State Department may also signal a shift away from Tillerson’s relatively orthodox approach to foreign policy.
“Pompeo is a skeptic toward the traditional thinking in Washington about Iran and North Korea,” Jim Jeffrey, former deputy national security adviser to president George W Bush, was quoted as saying in the Politico article. “Tillerson pushed back on policy things and at times he reflected that there’s always a diplomatic solution.”
Pompeo in contrast, Jeffrey said, “will think outside the box.”