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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.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

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

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
2 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.