And he said he will appoint a woman to lead the CIA for the first time in history.
‘Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job!’ the president tweeted.
‘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!’
Replacement: Mike Pompeo, who had been CIA director, will now lead the State Department
Sudden move: Trump also announced the elevation of Gina Haspel to CIA Director, the first time the post has been held by a woman. The career officer had a clandestine career and was its deputy director
Haspel was the CIA’s deputy director, a career officer who was a longtime clandestine officer.
In a statement, Trump said Pompeo ‘graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.’
He called Haspel’s move to the CIA’s reins ‘a historic milestone.’
Trump also had words of praise for Tillerson: ‘A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well,’ he said.
The president, however, had clashed with Tillerson over and over again in the past year, seeing him as a relic of the Republican establishment at a time when the nation needed more unconventional thinking.
The Washington Post reported that Tillerson was ousted on Friday, meaning that the White House known best for leaking information kept it a secret all weekend.
The outgoing diplomat’s last act in office was a shot across Vladimir Putin’s bow, saying Monday that the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in the UK ‘clearly came from Russia’ – and vowing to respond – hours after the White House refused to blame the Kremlin.
In a strongly worded statement, he slammed Russia as an ‘irresponsible force of instability in the world’ and gave the British government his backing after Prime Minister Theresa May pointed her own finger toward Moscow.
‘We have full confidence in the UK’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible for the nerve agent attack that took place in Salisbury last week,’ Tillerson said Monday.
Victim: Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a pizza restaurant in Salisbury, in south-west England and Rex Tillerson publicly blamed Vladimir Putin’s Russia for the attack on Monday, something the White House had pointedly not done
Goodbye: Rex Tillerson was last seen on Monday boarding his plane home to the United States after a tour of Africa which concluded in Abuja, Nigeria, after taking in countries including Ethiopia and Kenya
‘There is never a justification for this type of attack, the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation, and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior.
‘Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.’
He added that those responsible ‘must face appropriately serious consequences.’
Tillerson made the remarks during his trip to Africa just hours after the the White House broke a week-long silence to condemn the chemical attack, but declined to mention Moscow.’
Trump repeatedly crossed swords with the former Exxon Mobil executive, including a public episode in October where the president chided him on Twitter for ‘wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man’ – a reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
Foreign policy veterans said at the time that they couldn’t recall an instance where a sitting president had undermined his secretary of state in such a humiliating fashion.
But five months later the president himself accepted Kim’s invitation for a face-to-face meeting over the hermit kingdom’s nuclear missile program.
Haspel will need to face a Senate confirmation hearing.
Pompeo will not, because the Senate confirmed him as the CIA director just three days into the Trump administration.
Trump said that his incoming secretary of state ‘has earned the praise of members in both parties by strengthening our intelligence gathering, modernizing our defensive and offensive capabilities, and building close ties with our friends and allies in the international intelligence community.’
‘I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture,’ he added.
‘He will continue our program of restoring America’s standing in the world, strengthening our alliances, confronting our adversaries, and seeking the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.’