Don­ald Trump fires his sec­re­tary of state

Mod­er­ate Rex Tiller­son re­placed with Mike Pom­peo

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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.

Alex Wong/getty Im­ages

out­go­ing u.s. sec­re­tary of state Rex tiller­son makes a state­ment

on his de­par­ture Tues­day.

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