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After Rexit, tough job for Pompeo

Rex Tillerson at lectern
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo: Tony Karumba / AFP / Getty Images

Mike Pompeo takes over the State Department with three decided advantages over his predecessor: familiarity with foreign policy, experience in government and a good rapport with President Trump. Rex Tillerson, by contrast, had none of those.

The background: Tillerson made a difficult situation worse by failing to develop a strong relationship with the foreign service. He did not get the department fully resourced and depended on only a small core staff. His focus on restructuring amounted to a corporate CEO’s attempt to superimpose a structure he knew well onto a fundamentally different organization. Not surprisingly, the effort came to naught and many experienced hands abandoned ship.