Secretary of State Tillerson speaks after being ousted

Wednesday, 14 Mar, 2018

A veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency's black operations, Haspel, 61, was nominated by President Donald Trump to lead the top U.S. espionage body, after he named current CIA director Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state.

Tillerson's sack came after a series of public rifts over issues, including North Korea and Russian Federation. Instead, Feinstein said today that Haspel has been a "good deputy director of the CIA" and that she will wait until the confirmation hearing to determine whether to vote to confirm Haspel. Between 2003 and 2005, she oversaw a secret CIA prison in Thailand where terror suspects Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded, current and former US intelligence officials told the Associated Press. "I wanted to break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently".

Mr Trump immediately named Mr Pompeo (54), a man with whom he shares "a very similar thought process", as the new secretary of state.

In addition to the disagreement on the Iran deal, Tillerson did not see eye to eye with Trump's policies toward China, while Pompeo did, particularly with his Tea Party background, according to an insider who worked with the former Kansas congressman while serving as an adviser to the Trump transition team.

The personnel change comes ahead of a planned summit in the coming months between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set to be the first-ever meeting between a sitting US leader and a North Korean one.

Trump's frayed relationship with Tillerson has been well-documented.

The undersecretary for public affairs at the State Department, Steve Goldstein, offered a different account of Tillerson's departure.

It would be the first summit between a sitting USA president and a North Korean leader, following a year of heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile tests. They elected Trump. With Tillerson gone and Pompeo at State, McMaster will now have an ally at State who shares his belief that for Trump's warnings to North Korea to be credible, he must have well-developed and credible military options on the table. I think Trump is right about the Iran nuke deal and Paris Climate Accord.

He followed that up by speaking in support of the Trump administration budget which proposed to cut departmental spending by a third - continuing the slash and burn policies of a president who fancies himself his own one-man diplomatic army. With that view, the Trump administration has blurred the terms of the nuclear deal with other complaints against Iran that fall outside the scope of the agreement, including Iran's ballistic missile program.

President Trump tweeted this morning that he's naming Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo to replace him.

Trump announced the changes in a morning Twitter post and later told reporters more about why he removed Tillerson.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the jibe and denied any rift, insisting Trump "made a joke, nothing more than that".

He appeared to be caught by surprise last week when Trump announced he had accepted Kim's invitation to meet. Trump tweeted, "He will do a fantastic job!"

Given Rex Tillerson's malign neglect of his job, his ouster as secretary of state is welcome. Rather than informing Comey in person or by phone, Trump sent his longtime bodyguard-turned-director of Oval Office operations Keith Schiller to the Justice Department to deliver a letter notifying the Federal Bureau of Investigation head he was done.

Tillerson joined a long list of senior officials who have either resigned or been fired since Trump took office in January 2017. Goldstein said Tillerson was "unaware of the reason" he was sacked and "had had every intention of staying", feeling he was making progress on national security. The European parties to the deal were trying to work through Tillerson to ensure that the White House avoids rupturing the JCPOA directly, even as it layers sanctions on issues that were not addressed in the deal.

"I think it's fake news", Trump said of Tillerson's reported insult.

To put this more simply: If you were a foreign head of government meeting with Tillerson, would you have taken his assurances seriously? That rise in US pressure on Iran is not going to fundamentally shift Iran's behavior in the region.

Tillerson faced a tougher confirmation that most nominees to be secretary of state a year ago as Democrats grilled him about his oil business ties to Russian Federation. Current and former White House officials said Pompeo has proven more adept at negotiating the shifting power structures inside the administration and in reading and responding to the wishes of the president. "I made the North Korea decision with consultations from many people, but I made that decision by myself", he said.