Mar 13, 2018

Trump ousts Rex Tillerson in favor of CIA Director Pompeo

After months of media reports about a fractured relationship between President Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump tweeted today that CIA Director Mike Pompeo will replace Tillerson as head of the State Department. The State Department issued a statement that Tillerson had not spoken to Trump and was "unaware of the reason" for his dismissal.

The timing: Trump's announcement comes just hours after Tillerson broke with the White House to blame Russia for the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom. But the Washington Post, which first broke the news, reported that Trump made his decision last week: "Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled top diplomat cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington."

Yes, but: Senior state department officials are telling a different story: that Tillerson found out he was fired from Trump's tweet. And WashPost's Ashley Parker, who authored the original story, said it was "highly possible" that Tillerson "officially" learned of his firing via the tweet.

Trump also said that he will nominate CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to head the spy agency. If confirmed, she would become the first woman to lead the CIA.

The backdrop: This has been many months in the making. Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan first reported that Pompeo was in the running to replace Tillerson in October. They noted that Pompeo personally delivers the President's Daily Brief — making him one of the few people Trump spends a great deal of time with on a daily basis — and that the president is quite comfortable with Pompeo, asking his advice on topics from immigration to the inner workings of Congress.

From State Department Under Secretary Steve Goldstein...

"The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security. He will miss his colleagues at the Department of State and the foreign ministries he has worked with throughout the world.
The Secretary did not speak to the President 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.
We wish Secretary Designate Pompeo well."

From Trump's statement...

"As Director of the CIA, Mike 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 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."
"Finally, I want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service. A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well."

From Pompeo's statement...

"I am deeply grateful to President Trump for permitting me to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for this opportunity to serve as Secretary of State. His leadership has made America safer and I look forward to representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America’s prosperity."

From Haspel's statement...

"After thirty years as an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, it has been my honor to serve as its Deputy Director alongside Mike Pompeo for the past year. I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency."

Go deeper: The high-profile Trump White House departures.

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Coronavirus antibody tests are still relatively unreliable, and it's unclear if people who get the virus are immune to getting it again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned on Tuesday.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Mexico reported its highest single-day death toll on Tuesday, after 501 people died from the coronavirus, per data from Johns Hopkins and the country's health ministry.

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,588,299 — Total deaths: 350,417 — Total recoveries — 2,286,827Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,680,625 — Total deaths: 98,902 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy