Trump fires chief diplomat Tillerson after clashes, taps Pompeo

Mike pompeo

Trump on Tuesday said he had selected Pompeo, a 54-year-old conservative Republican who has served since last year as Central Intelligence Agency director, to replace fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the biggest Cabinet shakeup of his presidency. The president plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him.

USA stock index futures pared their gains and the dollar also trimmed gains versus the yen while extending losses versus the euro amid the news. Two senior department officials said Tillerson received a call from John Kelly, Trump's chief of staff, on Friday, but was only told that there might be a presidential tweet that would concern him.

In December Mr Tillerson had offered to begin direct talks with North Korea without pre-conditions, backing away from a key U.S. demand that Pyongyang must first accept that any negotiations would be about giving up its nuclear arsenal. Trump tweeted, "He will do a fantastic job!"

"The secretary did not speak to the president this morning and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling and not to be regretted", Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein said. Trump has said he wants to bring back waterboarding.

Pompeo will need to be confirmed by the Senate to take over as secretary of state.

"He represented a stable view with regard to the implementation of diplomacy in North Korea, Iran and other places in the world", said Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during most of Tillerson's tenure at State.

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It also comes amid a dramatic diplomatic opening with North Korea, with Trump set to hold a historic meeting with leader Kim Jong Un in May.

"This is a level of discussion, this president is going to drive this effort, this negotiation, but it will take a team to build out the picture, so that we put the president in the best position so that he can achieve that outcome", Pompeo said on Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participates in the first meeting of the U.S. National Space Council at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, U.S. October 5, 2017.

Mr. Trump made Tuesday's move while Mr. Tillerson, formerly the CEO of ExxonMobil, was out of the country, finishing a week-long tour of several African nations. McEntee was escorted out of the White House after he was sacked, reportedly for over an unspecified security issue. When you combine the countless number of questions and scenarios on the North Korea issue - and compound that with issues like renegotiating NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), the Iran nuclear deal, what to do about Syria, and the always complex challenge of Russia - President Trump needs a secretary of state he has confidence in. He's about to meet with North Korea, the Russian threat continues to pervade the globe, and key ambassadorships go empty. When the White House stopped short of directly blaming Moscow for the high-profile nerve agent attack on an ex-spy in the United Kingdom, Tillerson pulled no punches.

Conspicuously missing: A statement from Tillerson himself.

Speculation that Tillerson would be fired grew with those reports last fall, and the secretary of state never personally denied their accuracy. Last week, Trump's chief economic advisor Gary Cohn resigned after the president announced he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

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