March 13, 2018 01:27:49by

Rex Tillerson fired: Trump replaces secretary of state with CIA director

Rex Tillerson fired: Trump replaces secretary of state with CIA director

Donald Trump has sacked his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and announced his intention to replace him with the CIA director Mike Pompeo.

Trump announced the shake-up in a tweet, adding that Gina Haspel, currently Pompeo’s deputy, would become the CIA’s first female director.

Tillerson had just returned from a tour of Africa when his ouster was announced. His departure had long been predicted after a series of clashes with Trump over policy.

On Monday, he issued a much stronger response to the nerve agent assassination of a former Russian spy in the UK than the White House, naming Russia as a suspect, a step Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had avoided.

“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State,” Trump said in his tweet. “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!”

Pompeo, a former Republican congressman, is widely seen as more of a loyalist than Tillerson, a former oil executive who had not met Trump before the election and grew increasingly at odds with the president’s style and policies.

Last summer Tillerson was reported to have referred to Trump as a “fucking moron”, a report that he did not deny.

In a statement, Trump thanked Tillerson for his service and said “a great deal has been accomplished over the last 14 months, and I wish him and his family well”.

Pompeo said he was “deeply grateful” to Trump for “permitting me to serve” at the head of the CIA.

“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,” he added.

A senior White House official said: “The president wanted to make sure to have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talks with North Korea and various ongoing trade negotiations.”