Tillerson announces he'll leave secretary of state post March 31

  13 March 2018    Read: 1316
Tillerson announces he

 Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday his last day as the Secretary of State will be March 31.

"At the end of the day, I'm delegating all responsibilities of the Office of the Secretary to Deputy Secretary of State Sullivan," Tillerson said. "My commission as secretary of state will terminate at midnight March 31.

Tillerson said he received a phone call from President Donald Trump Tuesday hours afters after his firing by President Donald Trump on Twitter.Trump tweeted that Tillerson would be replaced by current CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state. 

"Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State," Trump tweeted. "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!"

Trump said Tuesday outside the White House that he respected Tillerson and the two got along well, but they disagreed on some issues. He said he made the decision to dismiss the secretary of state on his own.

"With Mike Pompeo, we have a similar thought process," Trump said.

According to Washington Post, Trump asked Tillerson to resign Friday.

Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein told CNNthat Tillerson had not spoken to Trump and was unaware of the reason he was fired. Goldstein told reporters that Tillerson only learned of his firing from Trump's tweet.

Goldstein lost his job hours later, White House officials told the Associated Press.

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker said in a statement a hearing on Pompeo's confirmation will be held in April.

"The committee will consider his nomination as expeditiously as possible," he said.

John McEntee, the president's personal assistant, also lost his job and was escorted out of the White House on Monday, reportedly over an issue with his security clearance. An early volunteer on Trump's campaign, the former college football quarterback and Fox News staffer had been one of the longest serving members of Trump's team and a close confidante of the president, Politico reported. 

McEntee is a focus of a Department of Homeland Security investigation into financial crimes, per CNN. Trump's re-election campaign announced McEntee would become a senior adviser for campaign operations.

Tillerson cut short his diplomatic trip to Africa, returning to Washington, DC, on Monday. The secretary's team told Reuters that he returned to the U.S. to deal with urgent work. The trip to Africa was among the first high-profile visits by an administration member since Trump had reportedly referred to countries there as "s---hole countries" in January.

The secretary had met with the president of Chad on Monday, which was among the countries listed on the president's travel ban. Chad's leader, Idriss Deby, expressed his bewilderment at the country being part of the ban and called it an injustice, according to the foreign minister.

Also Monday, Tillerson joined Great Britain in blaming Russia for the poisoning of an ex-spy living in England. He said he didn't know if the Russian government was directly involved, but the nerve agent clearly came from Russia and "certainly will trigger a response."

Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO, navigated storms involving Trump's decision to cease implementing the Paris Climate Accord and questions over Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The secretary and the president issued public statements contradicting the other multiple times on matters of foreign affairs, most recently with the news Thursday that Trump plans to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Tillerson follows chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and communications director Hope Hicks as the latest members of the administration to depart. Several other senior members have been fired or resigned in Trump's first 14 months in office, including national security adviser Mike Flynn, head of Health and Human Services Tom Price, chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Pompeo, confirmed as CIA director in January 2017, had served in the House as the representative from Kansas' 4th District from 2011 to 2017.

Gina Haspel, the deputy director of the CIA, is Trump's pick to take over for Pompeo. If confirmed, she would be the first female head of the intelligence agency.

The New York Times reported in 2017 that Haspel had overseen the torture of suspects and later the destruction of videotapes documenting it while serving in Thailand as a clandestine officer with the agency. A promotion to run clandestine operations had been blocked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, of the Senate Intelligence Committee, due to Haspel's reported role in "enhanced interrogations."


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