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Trump fires Tillerson: How 'Rexit' rumour became a reality; 10 developments

BS Web Team/Agencies/New Delhi 13 Mar 18 | 08:53 PM

Rex Tillerson, Mike Pompeo

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, ending his short but tumultuous tenure as the nations chief diplomat. CIA Director Mike Pompeo will take over the top position.

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Trump took to Twitter to share the development, saying: "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 -- Deputy Director at the Central Intelligence Agency -- will succeed Pompeo, becoming the first woman to run the spy agency, if confirmed. Both she and Pompeo would need confirmation by the Senate to take their respective positions. "Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!" Trump tweeted.

Tillerson found himself repeatedly at odds with Trump on a variety of key foreign policy issues. A senior administration official said the President made the decision to replace Tillerson in order to have a new team in place in advance of the upcoming summit and trade negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The President last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside and the embattled diplomat, who was touring Africa, cut short his trip on Monday to return to Washington. At the time, the State Department said he was not feeling well, the US media reported.

Later, Tillerson diverged from the White House this week in saying that poison used on a former spy in the UK "came from Russia".

VIDEO: US President Donald Trump speaks of his disagreements with ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, including over the Iran nuclear deal, as he explains his decision to replace him with Mike Pompeo

— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 13, 2018

ALSO READ: Trump ousts Secy of State Rex Tillerson, ropes in CIA Director Mike Pompeo

1. Tillerson's sacking ahead of Trump-Kim meet

The move comes as Trump is about to embark on historic and high-stakes talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture. He will continue our program of restoring America’s standing in the world, strengthening our alliances, confronting our adversaries, and seeking the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Trump said.

2. Tillerson cuts Africa visit short amid pressing US matters

Rex Tillerson had earlier cut short his first diplomatic trip to Africa to return to Washington to deal with pressing matters, according to a report Monday.

“Due to demands in the secretary’s schedule, he is returning to the US one day early after concluding official meetings in Chad and Nigeria," Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein told reporters, Reuters said.

Tillerson is expected to spend just a few hours in Nigeria on Monday rather than the overnight visit originally scheduled, Goldstein said.

3. Tillerson aide: Trump never explained to Tillerson reason he was fired, and Tillerson had wanted to stay in job.

4. Tillerson Disputes

Hired for his business acumen and outsider’s attitude, Tillerson, 65, had initially earned Trump’s praise as a deal-maker in the president’s mold who would champion his “America First" policy to the world. He came to the position with recommendations from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and ex-Pentagon chief Robert Gates. But after an early honeymoon with Trump, he appeared unable to maintain a bond with the president.

The two repeatedly, and publicly, disagreed -- on whether to stay in the Paris climate change accord, on how aggressively to back the embargo against Qatar led by Saudi Arabia and on whether to pursue a diplomatic solution to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

5. How 'Rexit' became a reality

Speculation that Tillerson was on his way out -- so frequent that it was nicknamed “Rexit" -- escalated in October, when NBC News reported that Tillerson had referred to Trump in private as a “moron." Tillerson scoffed at the report, although he left it to his spokeswoman to deny he’d used the word.

“My commitment to the success of the president and the country is as strong as it was the day I accepted his offer to serve as secretary of state," Tillerson told reporters at the time. “I have never considered leaving this post."

6. Tillerson dismissed as “laughable" a report of a plan at the White House to replace him with Pompeo

In December, Tillerson dismissed as “laughable" a report of a plan at the White House to replace him with Pompeo. Trump joined in with a denial that only underscored their policy disputes.

“The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon - FAKE NEWS!" the president wrote on Twitter at the time. “He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!"

7. Trump “speaks for himself"

Tillerson also seemed to signal his displeasure with the president after Trump’s widely criticized response to a neo-Nazi protest in August that led to a death in Charlottesville, Virginia. Tillerson said Trump “speaks for himself" and “we express America’s values from the State Department."

8. What Pompeo used to do before he became CIA director

Before his 2010 election to represent the district, Pompeo was president of Sentry International, a Midwest company that sells imported pumping units to US gas and oil distributors. Before that, he founded a Wichita, Kansas, company originally known as Thayer Aerospace, which manufactures components for the commercial aerospace, defense and space industries.

After graduating from West Point, Pompeo served as a cavalry officer in the US Army.

9. Key life-career moments of Pompeo

As a congressman, Pompeo served on the House Intelligence Committee, conducting oversight of US intelligence agencies, and the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Pompeo and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, released in June their own addendum to the House Benghazi Committee report that condemned Hillary Clinton's leadership of the State Department during the deadly Benghazi, Libya, attack, and accused the administration of misleading the public about events there.

The supplement was far more critical than the GOP majority report led by the committee chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.

Pompeo opposes the Iran deal, arguing in a summer op-ed that it hasn't helped make the United States safer. "Congress must act to change Iranian behavior and, ultimately, the Iranian regime," he wrote on Fox News’ website.

He is opposed to closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, and has also advocating for strengthening US surveillance capabilities.

10. Here's Pompeo full statement:

"I am deeply grateful to President Trump for permitting me to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for this opportunity to serve as Secretary of State. His leadership has made America safer and I look forward to representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America’s prosperity.

Serving alongside the great men and women of the CIA, the most dedicated and talented public servants I have encountered, has been one of the great honors of my life. I am proud of the work we have done on behalf of America and know that the Agency will continue to thrive under the leadership of Gina Haspel.

If confirmed, I look forward to guiding the world’s finest diplomatic corps in formulating and executing the President’s foreign policy. In my time as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, I have worked alongside many remarkable Foreign Service officers and Department of State leaders serving here in the United States and on the very edge of freedom. I know I will learn from them and, as President Trump set out in his State of the Union Address, work hard to ensure that 'our nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.'"

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