Donald Trump has sacked Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state and will replace him with CIA director Mike Pompeo.
The US president asked Mr Tillerson to step aside after months of speculation that the pair had fallen out.
The move amounts to a major shakeup in Mr Trump’s national security team and comes despite denials in the past from the president that he wanted Mr Tillerson gone.
It triggered a war of words within the US government as the State Department accused the president of not talking to Mr Tillerson before the sacking.
Mr Trump cited the pair’s differences on the Iran nuclear deal, which the president wants to scrap, when asked about the reason for the change.
The announcement comes just hours after Mr Tillerson went substantially further than the White House in linking the UK spy poisoning to Russia.
CNN reported that Mr Tillerson first found out about the sacking from Mr Trump’s tweet. He had just returned from diplomatic trip to Africa.
Tensions between Mr Trump and Mr Tillerson came to a head when the latter refused to deny reports he called the president a “moron” last year.
The pair have also publicly spared over the approach to North Korea, with Mr Trump reprimanding Mr Tillerson in tweets for believing talks with the regime could end their nuclear programme.
Mr Tillerson, a former oil executive, will be replaced by Mr Pompeo, who as the head of the CIA is involved in the president’s daily intelligence briefinf – providing his appointment is confirmed by Congress.
There were US media reports that Mr Trump asked Mr Pompeo for advice about topics beyond intelligence before Christmas, when it was said the president was considering making the switch.
Mr Trump said in a statement to the Washington Post: “I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State.
“Mike graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School.
“He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.”
He added: “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.”
Mr Trump later said on Tuesday that the pair “were not really thinking the same” on the Iran nuclear deal, which the president called “terrible”.
He said he got on with Mr Tillerson but added that they did not have “chemistry”. Mr Trump also praised the strength of his relationship with Mr Pompeo.
However Steve Goldstein, the under secretary of state, issued a statement on Tuesday morning saying Mr Trump did not talk to Mr Tillerson over the sacking.
“The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security,” Mr Goldstein said.
“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 that public service is a noble calling. We wish Secretary Designate Pompeo well.”
Gina Haspel, the Deputy Director of the CIA, will be put forward to replace Mr Pompeo and become the first-ever CIA female director – something Mr Trump called a “historic milestone”.
Ms Haspel is a career CIA employee who was appointed deputy director by Mr Trump in 2017.
Between 2003 and 2005 she was a senior official overseeing a top-secret program that subjected dozens of terror suspects to controversial interrogation techniques.
Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/13/rex-tillerson-ousted-us-secretary-state/