Donald Trump dumps Rex Tillerson as secretary of state

Erika Holt
March 14, 2018

A number of USA media outlets reported that he learned of his firing as secretary of state the same way many Americans did - from a tweet by President Donald Trump unveiling Mike Pompeo as his new top diplomat, Deutsche Welle writes.

Tillerson was also left out of the loop on the startling announcement last week that Trump had agreed to a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. How much of that was Tillerson himself and how much was the newly minted secretary trying to please President Trump, we'll never know.

Pompeo is more hardline on both Iran and North Korea.

"We got along actually quite well but we disagreed on things", Trump said on the White House lawn on Tuesday."When you look at the Iran deal: I think it's awful, I guess he thinks it was OK". Trump said that Tillerson didn't share his vision for how the country should move forward.

Onetime chief of staff Reince Priebus learned he was being replaced by John Kelly last summer from Twitter. But Steve Goldstein, a State Department undersecretary of state for public affairs, said Tillerson did not know why he was being pushed out and had meant to stay.

Tillerson has pushed Trump to remain and had been pursuing a delicate strategy with European allies and others to try to improve or augment the Obama-era deal to Trump's liking.

Many of Trump's top national security aides, like Tillerson, have argued that the United States is better off with the Iran nuclear deal than without it.

"I made that decision by myself", Trump said yesterday.

The president has chosen Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo to be his new secretary of state.

A senior White House official also said Tuesday Tillerson's ouster occurred at this time because Trump wanted to "have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talks with North Korea and various ongoing trade negotiations".

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Until now, Pompeo has had the luxury of being engaged in major foreign policy decisions without then having to explain or defend them. "There's nobody to be a check and balance on Trump".

Hours later, Mr Goldstein was sacked, apparently for contradicting the White House version of events. And he has won favor with Trump through his hawkish views on Iran, his willingness to aggressively defend the administration's foreign policy and his former military service. 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 USA intelligence officials said. And Tillerson's exit follows Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' disastrous interview this week on "60 Minutes" in which she struggled to answer basic education questions, and continuing controversies swirling around the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Interior, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development.

All of the officials demanded anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.

Combine Rex Tillerson's net worth with that of other Trump administration appointees such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (net worth estimated between $1 billion and $5 billion) and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (net worth: $700 million to $2.9 billion), and the collective wealth of Trump's cabinet was once estimated as high as $14.5 billion.

Tillerson joined a long list of senior officials who have either resigned or been fired since Trump took office.

Mr Trump publicly undercut Mr Tillerson's diplomatic initiatives numerous times, including on Monday when the former secretary of state's comments about Russian Federation appeared to be at odds with those of the White House.

He also said he was proud that the U.S. "exceeded expectations of everyone" on the campaign to pressure North Korea to denuclearise despite years of continued development in the face of United Nations and USA sanctions.

Tillerson later denied that he was considering resigning but did not specifically deny calling Trump a "moron".

"Much work remains to respond to the troubling behavior and actions on the part of the Russian government", Tillerson said. But over time, many lawmakers grew to appreciate Tillerson as a relatively steady hand in the chaotic Trump administration. "We will see what happened next", Goldstein said in statement to CNN. "I'm very aware of the relationship", said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican.

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