FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2018 file photo, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington. Tillerson is out as secretary of state. President Trump tweeted this morning that he’s naming CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace him. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Tillerson out at State, to be replaced by CIA chief Pompeo

President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday and said he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him, in a major staff reshuffle just as Trump dives into high-stakes talks with North Korea.

Trump announced the change in a tweet early Tuesday just four hours after Tillerson returned to Washington from a trip to Africa. Word of Trump’s dissatisfaction with Tillerson and plans to replace him had circulated for months, even as Tillerson insisted he didn’t plan to leave.

“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State,” Trump tweeted. “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!”

Trump said that the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, would take over for Pompeo at the intelligence agency. If confirmed, Haspel would be the CIA’s first female director.

Related: Manafort, Gates told to surrender in Mueller’s Russia probe

Rumours about friction between Trump and Tillerson were circulating last year. In October, NBC news reported that Tillerson called the president a “moron,” something Tillerson never actually denied. Tillerson continued to insist his relationship with the president was solid and brushed off rumours of strain between them.

Two officials familiar with the situation said that Tillerson had been fired by Trump on Friday, while in Africa. There were no obvious indications as Tillerson flew home early Tuesday from Nigeria that his departure was imminent, nor that it was his last trip abroad as top diplomat.

But Tillerson had cut short his trip by one night, telling reporters he had been sick in Africa and had barely slept two nights in a row because of urgent, middle-of-the-night matters, including the North Korea announcement.

“I felt like, look, I just need to get back,” Tillerson said.

Related: New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

Dismissing Tillerson had been discussed at multiple levels for a long time, said a senior White House official, adding that the North Korea overture and invitation brought more urgency to the decision. Two officials said Trump wanted to have a new team in place ahead of an upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as well as trade talks.

The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.

Tillerson also was known for his Russia connections and would be Trump’s most concrete outreach yet to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s announcement came the day after the Republican-controlled House Intelligence committee announced it found no collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

Tillerson was slated to retire from Exxon in March 2017 at age 65 under the company’s mandatory retirement policy. Paid $27.3 million last year, Tillerson has accumulated roughly $160 million in Exxon stock along with $149 million of unvested stock options, according a proxy statement the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Related: PM and Trump talk: U.S. in hurry for NAFTA deal, using tariff threat as leverage


Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

Josh Lederman, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


In this Jan. 29, 2018, photo, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey girls donate hair, give hope through Wigs for Kids

Emotional event at Coyote Creek Elementary saw 10 girls donate locks to those with cancer

Historic farm time travels to 1900

Demonstrations to show life in Surrey

Choices Lottery home located in White Rock

The 3,672 square-foot, three-level home, located at 1502 Bishop Road, has ocean views.

Pedestrian in critical condition after South Surrey crash identified

RCMP said they have been in contact with the woman’s family

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

Couple keeps South Surrey neighbourhood clean

Bob Cockerill, 83, and his wife Ev, 80, pick up garbage on their morning walks

Canadian Paralympic team picked up record 28 medals

The 55 athletes strong had set a cautious goal of 17 medals for PyeongChang

Canadian comic Mike MacDonald dies at 63

Ottawa-born comedian had performed on David Letterman

B.C. VIEWS: Speculation tax, cabin tax or asset tax?

Targeting empty homes seems confused and ineffective

Inspections, training needed to prevent repeat of Fernie ammonia leak across B.C.

Ammonia is inherently dangerous and should be not used in skating and curling rinks, says one expert

Fraser Valley Thunderbirds take game one

Quarter final BC Hockey Major Midget League series underway

RCMP move to arrest pipeline protesters at entrance to Trans Mountain work site

28 demonstrators began blocking the entrance to Kinder Morgan’s work site at about 10 a.m. Saturday

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Most Read