WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he had replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, ousting the embattled top diplomat after a series of public rifts.
Trump stated: “I have disagreed strongly on many issues with him (Tillerson). He added: “I did not discuss his removal with him.”
“We got along actually quite well but we disagreed on things.
“When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible, he thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently. So we were not really thinking the same,” said the US president.
Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein revealed: Outgoing US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did not speak to President Donald Trump before he was sacked Tuesday and has not been given a reason for his ouster.
“The secretary did not speak to the president this morning and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling and not to be regretted,” said Goldstein.
Goldstein, one of Tillerson’s top aides, was subsequently sacked for contradicting the official account of the secretary of state’s dismissal by Trump.
Earlier, Trump announced the Cabinet shakeup on Twitter and said he had tapped the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, to replace Pompeo at the intelligence agency.
Tillerson’s departure represents the biggest staff change in the Trump Cabinet so far and caps months of tensions between the Republican president and the 65-year-old former Exxon Mobil chief executive.
When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible, he thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently. So we were not really thinking the same.
A senior White House official said Trump asked Tillerson to step down on Friday but did want not to announce it while he was on a trip to Africa.
The official said Trump works well with Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas who is seen as a loyalist within the administration, and wanted him in place before the US president’s planned talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and trade negotiations.
US stock index futures pared their gains and the dollar also trimmed gains versus the yen while extending losses versus the euro amid the news.
Trump and Tillerson, who had no diplomatic or political experience before becoming secretary of state, have diverged on policy numerous times, including over North Korea and Russia. On Monday, Tillerson sharply criticized Russia over the poisonings in England of a former spy and his daughter, directly blaming Moscow after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders stopped short of doing so.
Tillerson also appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with North Korea’s leader and become the first sitting US president to do so.
“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!” Trump said on Twitter.
President Donald Trump’s choice to be the first female director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, is a career spymaster who once ran an agency prison in Thailand where terror suspects were subjected to a harsh interrogation techniques that the president has supported.
Haspel, the current deputy CIA director, also helped carry out an order that the agency destroy its waterboarding videos. That order prompted a lengthy Justice Department investigation that ended without charges.
When she was picked as deputy CIA director, her career was lauded by veteran intelligence officials, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who recently retired. But it also upset the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights advocates who found it unsettling that Trump would choose someone who was involved in the harsh interrogation program.
Meanwhile, Euro zone government bond yields fell on Tuesday following news that US President Donald Trump has ousted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, injecting a fresh dose of volatility into world markets.
Data showing that US inflation slowed in February also reassured investors, putting downward pressure on bond yields on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Treasuries reversed direction on the fear that Tillerson’s removal will give the nationalists greater power within the White House over the globalists,” said Investec economist Philip Shaw.