March 23, 2018

Trump to Replace Tillerson with Pompeo as Secretary of State

13 March 2018, 03:36 | Taylor George

State Rex Tillerson

State Rex Tillerson

After months of disputes with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Trump removed him Tuesday and nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo to head the State Department.

Thanking Mr Tillerson for his service on Twitter, Mr Trump said the new state secretary would do "a fantastic job".

Donald Trump has fired his Secretary of State hours after Rex Tillerson backed the UK's claim that the Salisbury nerve agent attack was "highly likely" to have originated in Russian Federation.

Gina Haspel, the deputy director of the CIA, will replace Pompeo if confirmed by the Senate, becoming the first female director of that agency.

Mr Trump last Friday asked Mr Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled top diplomat cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.

Trump's tweet Tuesday came the day after Tillerson blamed Russian Federation for an assassination in London - something the White House had specifically declined to do just hours before.

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The moves were first reported by The Washington Post. "I know I will learn from them and, as President Trump set out in his State of the Union Address, work hard to ensure that 'our nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free'".

"As Director of the CIA, Mike has earned the praise of members in both parties by strengthening our intelligence gathering, modernizing our defensive and offensive capabilities, and building close ties with our friends and allies in the worldwide intelligence community", Trump said.

Last Thursday, Tillerson said it would be premature for Trump to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Some national security insiders, meanwhile, have mused during recent months that Mr. Pompeo might be a stronger fit for secretary of state because of his focus on the North Korea crisis.

He also tapped Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. "Mike and Gina have worked together for more than a year, and have developed a great mutual respect".

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