WASHINGTON (AP/CBS News) — Rex Tillerson has been fired as secretary of state and President Donald Trump announced Tuesday morning that he’s naming CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace him.
Pompeo is to be replaced at CIA by Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s deputy at CIA. She would be the first woman in that role.
Tillerson had just returned from a shortened trip to Africa hours before Mr. Trump’s announcement.
As Mr. Trump departed for a California trip Tuesday morning, he told reporters that he and Tillerson “disagree on things,” and he singled out the Iran nuclear deal as an issue.
“Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things,” Trump said. “When you look at the Iran deal — I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something. And he felt a little bit differently. So we were not really thinking the same.”
A top State Department official said Trump never explained to Tillerson the reason why he was fired.
The undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, Steve Goldstein, says Tillerson “had every intention of staying” in the job because he felt he was making critical progress in national security.
Two White House officials said Tillerson was told he was out on Friday. The sources weren’t authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.
But Goldstein says Tillerson “did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason.”
Goldstein says Tillerson will miss his colleagues at the State Department and the foreign ministers he worked with.
Goldstein said, “We wish Secretary Pompeo well.”
Mr. Trump released a statement saying he was “proud” to nominate Pompeo to replace Tillerson.
“His experience in the military, Congress, and as leader of the CIA have prepared him well for his new role and I urge his swift confirmation,” said Mr. Trump in a statement. He added, ” want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service. A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well.”
CBS News reports that Tillerson was leaving his Africa trip early to return back to Washington to talk with Mr. Trump and connect on developments in North Korea, which he was largely left out of as the White House announced it would be taking up talks with the regime sometime in May.
When asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday if Tillerson would be leading the diplomatic talks between the U.S. and North Korea, Pompeo said such discussions would take a “team” effort.
“This is a level of discussion, this president is going to drive this effort, this negotiation, but it will take a team to build out the picture, so that we put the president in the best position so that he can achieve that outcome,” Pompeo said on Sunday.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)