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 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.
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 Trump’s planned talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and trade negotiations.
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.
Pompeo is known as a hardliner on Iran and a strong backer of Israel.
Some pro-Israel analysts eyed Tillerson with suspicion becasuse of his background in the oil industry, where he had extensive contacts in the Arab world.
The Trump administration is preparing to roll out its Mideast peace plan, but it is unclear if Tillerson’s firing is related to that.—Reuters