US President Donald Trump today fired his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is currently on a visit to Africa.
In a surprise announcement, Trump said Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become the new Secretary of the State. The position, however, needs to be confirmed by the US Senate.
Tillerson, 65, the former chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil was appointed last year on February 1. He had never previously held political office.
Trump also announced the appointment of Gina Haspel, the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to head the agency – the first woman selected for the top post.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
“The secretary did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve,” said Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein in a statement Tuesday. “The secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security.”
Shortly after releasing that statement, Under Secretary Goldstein was also fired by the White House, reports VOA.
The rapidly announced departures came just hours after Tillerson returned from a week-long trip to five African nations.
Statement from Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein: The Secretary had every intention of remaining because of the tangible progress made on critical national security issues. He established and enjoyed relationships with his counterparts.
— Steve Goldstein (@UnderSecPD) March 13, 2018
His departure was officially announced by the president on Twitter. “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!”
Critics said the move would sow more instability in the volatile Trump administration and marks the departure of another moderate who sought to emphasize the United States’ strong ties to its allies amid Trump’s criticism. Last week, top economic adviser Gary Cohn quit after Trump announced trade tariffs that would affect U.S. allies.