U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired last week, replaced by former CIA Director Mike Pompeo. President Trump announced the move on Twitter Tuesday morning, tweeting:
“Mike Pompeo, Director of 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 chose. Congratulations to all!”
There has been debate as to whether Trump posted the tweet before telling Tillerson he was fired. According to the White House, Tillerson was notified by phone a few days before the tweet, while he was traveling through Africa. However, according to Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein, the call only notified Tillerson to look out for a presidential tweet, and that Tillerson was not aware he was going to be fired, nor for what reason.
Goldstein was later fired as well for making his public remarks. U.S. diplomats were told not to tweet (directly or indirectly) anything related to Goldstein’s statement, or to Tillerson in general.
According to Trump, the decision to fire Tillerson stems from a clash of opinions and personalities. “We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things,” Trump told reporters after the announcement. “With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well.”
Trump and Tillerson clashed several times during Tillerson’s time as Secretary of State. Tillerson was reportedly absent from the decision-making process in creating the President’s various controversial “travels bans,” and the two men had differences of opinion on how to handle North Korea, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Paris climate accord. There were also disputes on the handling of the Middle East, as Trump gave significant control of the issue to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Tillerson was also notably rumored to have called Trump a “moron.”
The Tillerson and Goldstein dismissals push the number of members of Trump’s administration who have been fired or resigned this past year to over 20. Other high-profile members include U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates (fired), FBI director James Comey (fired), Reince Priebus (fired), press secretary Sean Spicer (resigned), chief strategist Steve Bannon (fired), chief economics advisor Gary Cohn (resigned), and White House communications director Hope Hicks (resigned).
Zoe Licata (Boston, Massachusetts)