US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (pictured) has been removed from his job, President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday, adding that CIA boss Mike Pompeo will replace him.
Pompeo “will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Congratulations to all!” wrote Trump.
Pompeo will be taking the new role ahead of the high-stake talks with North Korea by May.
Tillerson returned from a shortened diplomatic trip to five African countries early on Tuesday. A senior White House official told Reuters that Trump had asked Tillerson to step down on Friday. Hours after Tillerson returned to Washington, Trump tweeted Tillerson would be replaced. Trump has not explain the change.
It was no secret that things were not well between Trump and Tillerson ever since the former CEO and chairman of energy giant ExxonMobil called the US president a “moron”. Tillerson never denied making the statement.
Then rumours began going round in October last year that Tillerson’s days in office were numbered. Trump had dismissed them saying he and Tillerson were working together well.
But in the months that followed, the president openly contradicted Tillerson at multiple points during his time in office.
Tillerson was sworn in as secretary of state shortly after Trump’s inauguration in mid-January last year. Soon after he took over, Tillerson faces big challenges like North Korea’s frequent nuclear and missile tests and Russia’s alleged meddling in US presidential election. Tillerson’s voice of reason was often drowned out by Trump’s high-decibel fights with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
In another announcement on Tuesday, Trump said Gina Haspel is in line to become the next CIA director, which would make her the first woman to hold that job.