Trump fires Secretary of State Tillerson

Herb Boyd | 3/22/2018, 12:44 p.m.
Trump fires Secretary of State Tillerson
(GIN)—An extended visit to Africa this month by the U.S. secretary of state to mend fences after the president’s crude description of African and Caribbean countries was cut short this week by the dismissal of the embattled Secretary Rex Tillerson. GIN

Clearing the way to upcoming trade talks and a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, President Trump has removed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from his position.

In a tweet last Tuesday morning, Trump said it all: “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!”

Within a week, Trump has lost his top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and now his chief diplomatic negotiator, putting an end to the ongoing differences between them.

Tillerson, 65, and the former CEO of Exxon, was asked to step down Friday, short circuiting his planned trip to Africa. That trip, according to sources familiar with it, was primarily aimed at patching up the problems Trump created with his negative comments about Africa and other Third World countries.

Along with his praise of Tillerson, who is reportedly recovering from an illness, Trump lavished accolades on the incoming secretary of state and Haspel. He said he was proud to nominate Pompeo, who “graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School.”

Trump continued, “He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.”

Haspel, Trump said, “will be nominated to replace Director Pompeo and she will be the CIA’s first-ever female director, a historic milestone.”

He added, “Mike and Gina have worked together for more than a year and have developed a great mutual respect.”

Trump’s dismissal of Tillerson was seemingly inevitable, given their differences on diplomacy, a fact that was evident from the outset of Tillerson’s appointment. It was rumored that Tillerson was on the brink of resigning after Trump’s politicized speech last summer to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led. Moreover, a dispute between them arose because of reports of Tillerson calling Trump a “moron,” although Tillerson denied it.

With the meeting with the North Korean leader on the agenda, although little has been forthcoming from them, Trump removed an impediment that developed during Tillerson’s handling of diplomacy with the rogue nation.

The White House’s revolving door spins again.