President Trump confirmed this morning that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is being replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The announcement comes at a key time as diplomatic negotiations with North Korea are in the works, and issues with Russia continue to occur.
The announcement is not too much of a surprise, as Trump reportedly asked Tillerson to leave his position as Secretary of State last Friday. Trump and Tillerson have had a number of disagreements on key issues such as the Iran deal, Paris Climate Accord, and the strategy regarding Afghanistan. It’s unclear if these disputes were the deciding factor in Trump electing to replace Tillerson, but it’s hard to believe that they didn’t play a role.
New Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes with extensive experience in numerous positions, making him a fitting replacement. Prior to serving as CIA Director, Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point, served in the U.S. Army, graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, and served three terms in the House of Representatives.
Pompeo also has very different positions from Tillerson on some major issues. He supports Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu, desires regime change in North Korea, and is a huge critic of the Iran deal.
Pompeo has affirmed the importance of America’s alliance with Israel, explaining that “We must stand with our ally Israel and put a stop to terrorism. Ongoing attacks by the Palestinians serve only to distance the prospect of peace.” Prior to being nominated CIA Director, Pompeo discussed the Iran deal, stating, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” With regard to North Korea, last year he said that “It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today.”
CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel will take Pompeo’s place as CIA director, making her the first-ever female CIA director.
It’s clear that Pompeo has much more in common with President Trump than Tillerson does, so there will likely be much less friction between the president and the State Department. The move is the latest in an endless series of changes in Trump’s Cabinet, and there certainly may be more on the way.
Follow the author on Twitter