Donald Trump fires his secretary of state
Moderate Rex Tillerson replaced with Mike Pompeo
U.S. President Donald Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with whom he had repeatedly clashed, and replaced him with CIA director Mike Pompeo, a right-wing former congressman who has advocated an aggressive posture toward North Korea and Iran.
The decision could result in the further hardening of Trump foreign policy. With last week’s resignation of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, the administration is losing two of its top advocates of moderation and internationalism. Pompeo has sought to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal Tillerson supported, and he has hinted at a desire to oust North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
It is also possible, analysts said, that the replacement of Tillerson with Pompeo will not have major policy ramifications. Trump has never seemed inclined to listen to his diplomats, and his decision-making has frequently been driven more by his own impulses than the advice of any appointee.
“I don’t know. And I don’t think anybody knows,” Aaron David Miller, a former adviser to six secretaries of state, said of how Pompeo’s arrival will affect the fate of the Iran deal.
Trump’s move adds to the chaos endlessly plaguing an administration that has experienced abnormally high turnover. Communications director Hope Hicks resigned in late February, staff secretary Rob Porter under a cloud in early February. On Monday, Trump’s personal assistant, John Mcentee was fired and escorted off the White House property over some kind of security issue.
Tillerson’s departure could simplify other countries’ dealings with the administration. Trump demonstrated on numerous occasions that Tillerson was not actually speaking for him. His casual undermining of his alleged chief emissary left allies and adversaries puzzling over how seriously to take their interactions with the former Exxonmobil chief executive.
U.S. news outlets said Trump was contemplating more big changes. At various times, he has been said to be irritated with chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser H.R. Mcmaster.
Tillerson’s exit was no big surprise: his disconnect with the president was obvious even before the public learned in October that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron.” Tillerson reportedly thought Trump was ill-informed and irresponsible. Trump reportedly thought Tillerson was disloyal, ineffective and overly fond of traditionalist policy. They clashed over Qatar, Russia, NATO, the Paris climate accord and other issues.
Tillerson’s tenure was among the shortest in U.S. history. It was rocky from the start. Trump was not his only critic: members of both parties, along with current and former diplomats, accused him of mismanagement. Diplomats were particularly incensed by Tillerson’s desire to chop his department’s budget by about a third and to induce 2,000 employees to leave. A union representing foreign service officers warned of an exodus of disaffected staff.
outgoing u.s. secretary of state Rex tillerson makes a statement
on his departure Tuesday.