Rex Tillerson

State Department

Rex Tillerson Out As Secretary Of State; To Be Replaced By CIA Director Mike Pompeo

March 13, 2018 - 1:58 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) -- President Donald Trump is replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with current Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo.

Trump announced the news on Twitter.

"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 tweeted Tuesday morning.

In a statement, the president said he's "proud" to nominate Pompeo adding, "I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture."

"His experience in the military, Congress, and as leader of the CIA have prepared him well for his new role and I urge his swift confirmation," Trump said.

He later told reporters Pompeo has "tremendous energy, tremenedous intellect, we're always on the same wavelength. The relationship has been very good."

Pompeo thanked the president for the opportunity saying in a statement, "I look forward to representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America's prosperity."

"If confirmed, I look forward to guiding the world's finest diplomatic corps in formulating and executing the President's foreign policy," Pomepo said.

Haspel, who is currently the deputy director of the CIA, said she's "humbled" by the president's confidence in her and if confirmed, "I look forward to providing President Trump the outstanding intelligence support he has grown to expect during his first year in office."

Speaking Tuesday afternoon, Tillerson said he is delegating his responsibilities to Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan. Tillerson said his tenure as Secretary of State will terminate at midnight March 31.

Tillerson went through what he said were the greatest achievements during his 14 months at the helm of the State Department, while also noting where more needs to be done.

“We all took the same oath of office,” Tillerson said, addressing State Department colleagues as well as the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Whether you’re a career employee or a political appointee, we are all bound by that common commitment to support and defend the constitution, to bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and to faithfully discharge the duties of our office.”

Tillerson said in his time in office, the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea had “exceeded expectations with almost everyone.” He said the State Department had increased the scope and effectiveness of the sanctions on his watch.

Tillerson also noted the South Asia strategy intended to “compel the Taliban to reconciliation with and peace talks with the Afghan government.”

But Tillerson said much work still needs to be done when it comes to Syria. He said the U.S. did achieve cease fires and stabilizations that saved “thousands of lives,” but much more work needs to be done to achieve peace in Syria and a stable government in Iraq, as well as to defeat ISIS.

On China, Tillerson said: “Much work remains to establish a clear view of the nature of our future relationship…. How should we deal with one another over the next 50 years?”

Tillerson also singled out Russia for criticism.

He said much work remains to “respond to the troubling behavior and actions on the part of the Russian government. Russia must assess carefully as to how its actions are in the best interest of the Russian people and the world more broadly.”

Tillerson said if Russia continues on its current path, it will likely lead to greater isolation.

Tillerson returned to Washington early from a trip to Africa just ahead of the announcement, and CBS News' Margaret Brennan said he had not yet spoken with the president and learned the news when the public did.

Hours after Tillerson was let go, the White House also fired State Department Under Secretary Steve Goldstein who in an earlier statement to CBS News said, "The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security. He will miss his colleagues at the the Department of State and the foreign ministers he has worked with throughout the world."

Goldstein added that Tillerson was "unaware of the reason" but is "grateful for the opportunity to serve."

Goldstein has largely served as Tillerson’s spokesman. He has been on the job for less than three months and is known for being loyal to Tillerson – and for encouraging Tillerson to speak more to the press, CBS News reported.

Tillerson served more than 400 days as secertary of state, the senior-most cabinet position, CBS News White House correspondent Steve Portnoy reported.

"A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well," Trump stated.

Trump did not offer a reason for the ouster, but told reporters that he made the decision "by myself." He said they had been "talking about this for a long time" and although they "got along quite well" they disagreed on several issues including the Iran deal.

The president said Tillerson will be "much happier now."

CBS News correspondent Steve Dorsey told Steve Scott and Michael Wallace that Trump had longstanding differences with Tillerson.

“The president says that he has had ideological and policy differences with outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,” Dorsey said. “He says he has a much better relationship with now-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who is due to replace Tillerson, and his acting replacement, once he can get confirmed in the Senate.”

CBS News' Cami McCormick reported a senior White House official said the president also wanted to have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talks with North Korea.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) reacted to the news tweeting, "The instability of this administration in just about every area weakens America. If he’s confirmed, we hope that Mr. Pompeo will turn over a new leaf and will start toughening up our policies towards Russia and Putin."

Dorsey said Pompeo’s appointment has drawn mixed reaction from those inside the State Department.

“Some are relieved that there’s finally a change in leadership there, where morale is at just about historic lows,” Dorsey said. “Still, some are concerned that Mike Pompeo might lean into the president’s foreign policy, whereas Tillerson took a more measured approach. So there’s some relief, but also some concerns on the horizon.”

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley hailed Pompeo as a "great decision'' for next secretary of state.

As to Haspel, Dorsey said her past oversight of CIA black sites will be an issue in her confirmation hearings.

“Absolutely – she had a role in the CIA’s use of torture. She had a role in its covert program of overseas black sites where prisoners were held by the CIA – including in places like Thailand,” Dorsey said. “That’s something certainly Democrats at least will zero in on during her confirmation hearings.”

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