Mar 13, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen
1 big thing: Rexit

Rex Tillerson, outgoing US Secretary of State. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Rex Tillerson told national TV today that he got a call from President Trump around noon, roughly three hours after being fired on Twitter.

Trump at 8:44 am today: "Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. 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!"

Flashback: Axios on October 7..."Trump advisors and allies are floating the idea of replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo..."

Tillerson's parting words:

  • On North Korea: Tillerson said the department “exceeded expectations” with the maximum pressure campaign on North Korea.
  • On Syria: "While progress has been made, much work remains."
  • On Russia: "Continuing on their current trajectory is likely to lead to greater isolation."
  • To State Department staff: "I close by thanking all for the privilege of serving beside you for the last 14 months... I'm proud of the opportunity I've had to serve my country. God bless all of you. God bless the American people. God bless America."
  • Notable: Aside from his mention of the president's phone call, Tillerson avoided the topic of Trump.

Pompeo's potential successor: CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel, who would be the first female director of the CIA. She once ran one of the CIA's "black site" prisons in Thailand where Al Qaeda terror suspects were subjected to torture techniques. [Go deeper]

CFR president Richard Haass writes for Axios on the task ahead for Pompeo:

  • "The initial challenge for Pompeo is to shore up his department and fill the long list of vacant overseas posts."
  • "It will help if he can somehow persuade the president to rein in both his tweets and his son-in-law, and to better weigh the likely consequences of major decisions before making them."
  • "He will need to manage all that amid preparations for a North Korea summit, international fallout from metals tariffs, a pending decision on the Iran nuclear pact and mounting differences with China and Russia — not to mention the ongoing probe by Special Counsel Mueller."

P.S. State Department Under Secretary Steve Goldstein was fired Tuesday after issuing a statement saying Rex Tillerson had not spoken with the president prior to being fired.

P.P.S. "Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was fired and escorted from the White House on Monday after being denied a security clearance over financial problems in his background." [W.S.J.]

Go deeper: Jonathan Swan on the long road to Tillerson's ouster

2. What you missed
Seven thousand pairs of shoes, representing the children killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook, are spread out on the U.S. Capitol lawn by the global advocacy group Avaaz. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  1. Trump told British Prime Minister Theresa May this afternoon that the U.S. would be with the U.K. "all the way" over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal. Quotes.
  2. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, wants to use blockchain technology, biometrics, artificial intelligence, and cryptography to enforce know-your-customer requirements. What that means.
  3. Big in NFL: "Free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins is making arrangements to visit the Minnesota Vikings ... and is expected to complete a three-year deal with them worth an estimated $84 million to $86 million." Details.
  4. Pope Francis’ latest book comes out in English this summer: “A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society” publishes Aug. 7.
  5. CBS News president David Rhodes said at an industry conference in Jerusalem that Stormy Daniels’ interview with Anderson Cooper for “60 Minutes” is coming soon: “The only reason it hasn’t run is that there’s still a lot of journalistic work to do.” More.
3. 1 👀 thing

Nectome, "a preserve-your-brain-and-upload-it company," is pitching a high-tech embalming process at YCombinator's "Demo days" that can preserve your brain, but you have to die for it to work, MIT Technology Review reports.

  • "Its chemical solution can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass. The idea is that someday in the future scientists will scan your bricked brain and turn it into a computer simulation. That way, someone a lot like you, though not exactly you, will smell the flowers again in a data server somewhere."
  • "For Nectome’s procedure to work, it’s essential that the brain be fresh. The company says its plan is to connect people with terminal illnesses to a heart-lung machine in order to pump its mix of scientific embalming chemicals into the big carotid arteries in their necks while they are still alive (though anesthetized)."
  • The product is “100 percent fatal,” says McIntyre. “That is why we are uniquely situated among the Y Combinator companies.”

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Mike Allen