Trump fires Tillerson, taps Pompeo as next secretary of state



(CNN)President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and will nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to succeed him, replacing his top diplomat ahead of a potential high-stakes sitdown between the US President and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Tillerson's departure follows months of tension between him and Trump. Gina Haspel, the current CIA deputy director, stands to take over the agency, Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he respected Tillerson's "intellect" and said he "got along well with Rex."
    "I think Rex will be much happier now," Trump said.
    Tillerson did not speak to Trump and is unaware of the reason behind his firing, Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein said.
    Trump "thought it was the right time for the transition with the upcoming North Korea talks and various trade negotiations," a senior administration official said, adding that Trump asked Tillerson to step aside on Friday. A senior White House official later clarified that chief of staff John Kelly told Tillerson that he would be replaced, but did not specify the timing.
    Goldstein said Tillerson was notified of the official termination in Trump's tweet Tuesday morning.
    Asked how Tillerson learned of his dismissal, Trump said Tuesday that "Rex and I have been talking about this a long time." He specifically mentioned the Iran nuclear deal as an example of disagreement.
    "We were not really thinking the same," Trump said. "With Mike Pompeo, we have a similar thought process."
    Trump: Tillerson and I didn't think the same 03:06

    Trump eyed Pompeo for months

    Trump has wanted Pompeo as his secretary of state for months now, and the White House began planning for him to take the job last fall, sources told CNN. Trump told reporters Tuesday that he and Pompeo are "on the same wavelength" and "the relationship has always been very good and that is what I need."
    Trump's anger at Tillerson after it leaked last year that his secretary of state called him "a moron"never subsided, and many in the White House saw their differences as irreconcilable.
    Tillerson had few, if any, allies in the West Wing. Though Kelly was initially on his side when he took over, he eventually grew weary of defending him -- especially after the "moron" remark, which Kelly saw as insubordination on Tillerson's part.
    Sources close to the President say it was clear Tillerson didn't support Trump. They say Tillerson wanted to handle foreign policy his own way, without the President. Trump didn't feel that Tillerson backed him, a source told CNN.
    Trump and his top aides have spent recent days attempting to quell talk of a White House in chaos, with the President tweeting earlier this month that there was "no Chaos, only great Energy" in the White House. But five top Trump administration officials -- ranging from communications professionals to Tillerson -- have resigned or been fired in the last two weeks.
    Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Trump top economic adviser, resigned from the White House last week after a dispute over new tariffs on steel and aluminum. Hope Hicks, Trump's communications director and longtime confidante, resigned late last month. Trump's longtime personal aide John McEntee was fired and escorted from the White House on Monday, sources tell CNN. And Josh Raffel, a senior spokesman who worked extensively with Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, left the White House last month.

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