The departing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the mistake of disagreeing with his boss President Donald Trump – leading to his ouster and paving the way for CIA Director Mike Pompeo to assume the role.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that he and Tillerson differed on the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six countries including the U.S. in 2015.
“When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible,” the president said. “I guess he thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently. So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well.”
In addition to the disagreement on the Iran deal, Tillerson did not see eye to eye with Trump’s policies toward China, while Pompeo did, particularly with his Tea Party background, according to an insider who worked with the former Kansas congressman while serving as an adviser to the Trump transition team.
“I have been told that Tillerson was getting increasingly angry over the Trump crackdown on China,” Michael Pillsbury, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and China policy expert who served as an adviser to various presidential administrations, told FOX Business.
Tillerson’s lack of governmental experience was part of his “undoing,” Pillsbury said, adding that the former ExxonMobil CEO was never the right choice.
“It never should have been Tillerson – that was a mistake from the beginning,” Pillsbury said. “Because of [his] lack of substantive knowledge. When you combine the president, who’s coming in – as Trump likes to say … his first government job is being president. So when you combine that with Tillerson’s first government job being secretary of state, it’s a bad combination.”
Pompeo graduated at the top of his class at West Point and is a former cavalry officer who patrolled the Iron Curtain prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He represented Kansas’ Fourth District from 2011 to 2017.
“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,” Pompeo said in a statement. “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.”
Nominated to succeed Pompeo is Gina Haspel, the deputy director of the CIA, who would become the first woman to lead the spy agency. She thanked the president for the opportunity.
“[I am] humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” she said in a statement. “If confirmed, I look forward to providing President Trump the outstanding intelligence support he has grown to expect during his first year in office.”
Pompeo and Haspel will need to be confirmed by the Senate to serve in their new roles. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee expects to hold a hearing regarding Pompeo’s nomination in April.
“As I shared with the president, the committee will consider his nomination as expeditiously as possible,” committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in a statement Tuesday.
The news was first reported by The Washington Post.
This story has been updated