FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2018 file photo, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington. Tillerson is out as secretary of state. President Trump tweeted this morning that he’s naming CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace him. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Tillerson out at State, to be replaced by CIA chief Pompeo

President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday and said he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him, in a major staff reshuffle just as Trump dives into high-stakes talks with North Korea.

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.

“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 that the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, would take over for Pompeo at the intelligence agency. If confirmed, Haspel would be the CIA’s first female director.

Related: Manafort, Gates told to surrender in Mueller’s Russia probe

Rumours about friction between Trump and Tillerson were circulating last year. In October, NBC news reported that Tillerson called the president a “moron,” something Tillerson never actually denied. Tillerson continued to insist his relationship with the president was solid and brushed off rumours of strain between them.

Two officials familiar with the situation said that Tillerson had been fired by Trump on Friday, while in Africa. There were no obvious indications as Tillerson flew home early Tuesday from Nigeria that his departure was imminent, nor that it was his last trip abroad as top diplomat.

But Tillerson had cut short his trip by one night, telling reporters he had been sick in Africa and had barely slept two nights in a row because of urgent, middle-of-the-night matters, including the North Korea announcement.

“I felt like, look, I just need to get back,” Tillerson said.

Related: New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

Dismissing Tillerson had been discussed at multiple levels for a long time, said a senior White House official, adding 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 officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.

Tillerson also was known for his Russia connections and would be Trump’s most concrete outreach yet to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s announcement came the day after the Republican-controlled House Intelligence committee announced it found no collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

Tillerson was slated to retire from Exxon in March 2017 at age 65 under the company’s mandatory retirement policy. Paid $27.3 million last year, Tillerson has accumulated roughly $160 million in Exxon stock along with $149 million of unvested stock options, according a proxy statement the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Related: PM and Trump talk: U.S. in hurry for NAFTA deal, using tariff threat as leverage

___

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

Josh Lederman, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

In this Jan. 29, 2018, photo, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Just Posted

Snowboarder buried in Elk Valley avalanche

Group self-rescues after triggering an avalanche south of Sparwood

Memorial Arena set to open this week

Cranbrook gets an early Christmas present as Memorial Arena opens after four-month repairs

SPCA puts out fundraising call for Bumble the kitty

Stray cat taken into care needs surgery to remove eyes because of glaucoma

How the Grinch did not steal Christmas

Cranbrook RCMP recover stolen packages thanks to the help of Denim with Police Dog Services

Cattle truck crash closes Hwy 3 near Jaffray

A detour route is available via Betania Rd

Story of the Year: Deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The Canadian Press annual survey of newsrooms across the country saw 53 out of 129 editors cast their votes for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

‘A start:’ Alberta critical of Ottawa’s $1.6B package for ailing energy sector

A further $150 million is to be used for clean growth and infrastructure projects

New B.C. Lions coach DeVone Claybrooks adds eight to coaching staff

DeVone Claybrooks has filled out his staff for the 2019 season

Two-year-old attacked by cougar near Mission, B.C.

Boy not seriously injured in incident on Monday afternoon

Trump signs order to create US Space Command

President Donald Trump signs an executive order to create a U.S. Space Command.

Groups preparing new pipeline legal challenge, argue government’s mind made up

A Vancouver-based environment charity is readying itself to go back to court if the federal government reapproves the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Notorious Toronto triple killer gets third consecutive life sentence

Dellen Millard gets third consecutive life sentence for father’s death.

Most Read