President Donald Trump on Tuesday replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, nominating CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him, in a major staff reshuffle in the backfrop of his surprise meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
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|US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and CIA Director Mike Pompeo || |
Trump announced the change in a tweet early Tuesday just four hours after Tillerson returned to Washington from a trip to Africa. Word of Trump's dissatisfaction with Tillerson and plans to replace him had circulated for months, even as Tillerson insisted he didn't plan to leave.
Trump selected Gina Haspel - the deputy director at the CIA - to succeed Pompeo at the CIA. She would become the first woman to run the spy agency.
According to The Washington Post, Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, who cut short a trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.
At the White House on Tuesday, Trump said the move had been considered for ''a long time.''
''We disagreed on things ... the Iran deal,'' Trump told reporters. ''So we were not thinking the same. With Mike Pompeo, we have a similar thought process.''
Trump selected Gina Haspel - the deputy director at the CIA - to succeed Pompeo at the CIA. She would become the first woman to run the spy agency, if confirmed by the Senate.
Rumours about friction between Trump and Tillerson have been circulating since last year. In October, NBC news reported that Tillerson called the president a "moron,".
While Tillerson never denied the report, he continued to insist his relationship with the president was solid and brushed off rumours of a rift between them.
Dismissing Tillerson has been discussed at multiple levels for a long time, AFP reported citing an unnamed senior White House official, who added that the North Korea overture and invitation brought more urgency to the decision.
Two officials said Trump wanted to have a new team in place ahead of an upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as well as trade talks, the AFP report added.
Both would need to be confirmed by the Senate at a time when the closely divided chamber has stalled on confirming dozens of Trump nominees.
Trump praised both Pompeo and Haspel, saying the two have worked together for over a year, and have developed a great mutual respect.