June 20, 2018

Trump axes Tillerson, names CIA's Pompeo chief US Diplomat

14 March 2018, 11:16 | Taylor George

Trump axes Tillerson, names CIA's Pompeo chief US Diplomat

Incoming CIA director Gina Haspel delivers remarks at the 2017 William J. Donovan Award Dinner in Washington DC

Haspel was selected as the agency's new director after the Republican president fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and chose current CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson's replacement.

Tillerson's sacking comes shortly after Trump, without consulting his top diplomat, chose to accept an invitation to talks with North Korea's Kim Jong-un on resolving the Korean nuclear stand-off.

Pompeo is President Donald Trump's pick to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. And his choice to appoint Gina Haspel - who has been criticized amid allegations of involvement in the CIA's infamous torture program - as the new Central Intelligence Agency director also shows that Trumps wants a more hawkish foreign policy.

On Tuesday, some US intelligence officials said reports of her alleged involvement in interrogations involving torture were false. The tensions peaked last fall amid reports Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" and considered resigning.

"I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently", Trump said.

"We have a very similar thought process", Trump said of Pompeo on Tuesday. "Pompeo, by contrast, joined President Trump in his deep hostility to the Iran nuclear deal".

The personnel change comes as the White House prepares for a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the coming months - set to be the first-ever meeting between a sitting USA president and a North Korean leader.

Trump's frayed relationship with Tillerson has been well-documented.

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A top State Department official says President Donald Trump never explained to ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the reason why he was sacked. Hours later, he was sacked, too.

Many Democrats in Congress expressed dismay at the firing, which they said would sow more instability in the Trump administration at a crucial time. Given that he's been there for the past more than a year, I think you can expect a lot of the same when it comes to the security focus. Though he assured Fox News viewers the same day as Mr Tillerson's comments that "we have a very good understanding of the Russian program and how to make sure that Americans continue to be kept safe from threats" he also said the United States intelligence community had ruled that Russia had no impact on the 2016 USA election when a January 2017 joint assessment said there was no conclusion on that as yet. In Pompeo, Trump is hoping for a secretary of state who will heel to the hard-line thinking of his administration.

On the same day he jettisoned Tillerson, the president's personal assistant was escorted from the White House after his security clearance was revoked - and promptly was given a senior job with Trump's re-election campaign.

On Tillerson's plane trip back from Africa, he had told reporters he had cut short his mission by one night because he was exhausted after working most of the night both Friday on Saturday and falling ill.

On Monday, Tillerson blamed Russia for the poisonings in England of a former Russian double agent and his daughter. What I can say is that the White House and Congress have been focused on a narrative of, "How does the U.S. compete with China in African markets?" President Donald Trump is the President of the United States, and he sets the foreign policy of the United States as the head of state.

Career CIA officers have seen Pompeo as one of the most overtly political directors in the agency's history and a staunch public defender of the president.

Tillerson thanked colleagues for "the privilege of serving beside you for the last 14 months" and thanked the American people for their "devotion to a free and open society" during a speech at the State Department headquarters, noting that "much remains to be done". She would be the first woman in that role. Tillerson was caught flat-footed when the White House announced the surprise plan last week.

Michael Flynn, a retired general, entered the White House with a cloud over him - he had been fired by Barack Obama as defense intelligence chief.

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