President Donald Trump fired his secretary of state on Tuesday, announcing on Twitter that he would elevate his spymaster to the role of global diplomat-in-chief.
And he said he will appoint a woman to lead the CIA for the first time in history.
‘Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job!’ the president tweeted.
‘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!’
Rex Tillerson was last seen on Monday boarding his plane home to the United States after a tour of Africa which concluded in Abuja, Nigeria, after taking in countries including Ethiopia and Kenya
Haspel was the CIA’s deputy director, a career officer who was a longtime clandestine officer.
In a statement, Trump said Pompeo ‘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.’
Analysis of Issues
Vox News reports that, Rex Tillerson was “one of the worst secretaries of state” in modern history, according to experts from across the political spectrum.
He was in office for a little over a year, one of the shortest tenures in modern history — and it was not, experts say, a distinguished one.
The former ExxonMobil CEO, whose nomination was initially greeted warmly by prominent foreign policy hands, will leave without any major accomplishments. This is largely because he failed to wield any significant influence in internal administration debates over issues like North Korea or Russia, in fact actively alienating the president during several key policy debates.
“Tillerson would be at or near the bottom of the list of secretaries of state, not just in the post-Second World War world but in the record of US secretaries of state,” says Paul Musgrave, a scholar of US foreign policy at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
His push to slash “inefficiencies” in the State Department and seeming disinterest in working closely with longtime staff were even more damaging. Under Tillerson’s watch, 60 percent of State’s top-ranking career diplomats resigned and new applications to join the foreign service fell by half, according to a November count by the American Foreign Service Association. This hollowing out of the foreign service, combined with Tillerson’s inability to appoint people to vital positions like Ambassador to South Korea, delayed American responses to major crises and weakened the State Department for a “generation,” according to George Washington University’s Elizabeth Saunders.
This can’t all be blamed on Tillerson: even a skilled and experienced diplomat would have had trouble maintaining influence in the chaotic Trump White House, a place where foreign policy is often made by tweet. As if to underscore the point, Trump announced Tillerson’s departure in a tweet — before the secretary himself could make a statement.
Yet scholars and foreign policy practitioners across the political spectrum agree that he deserves much of the blame.
“I think he really will go down as one of the worst secretaries of State we’ve had,” Eliot Cohen, counselor to the State Department under President George W. Bush, told Axios’ Jonathan Swan. “He will go down as the worst Secretary of State in history,” tweeted Ilan Goldenberg, an Obama-era State Department official.
Tillerson was expected by many to be one of the “adults in the room,” helping Secretary of Defense James Mattis rein in some of Trump’s most wild ideas. His attempts to play that role backfired — his ham-handed attempts to manage Trump alienated the president, who has reportedly complained about his “totally establishment” views on foreign policy.
When you combine the lack of influence over Trump with Tillerson’s dismantling of the State Department’s staff — he made more of a mess of the department in a shorter amount of time than any other secretary of state in history — you have a truly disastrous tenure in Foggy Bottom.
“He took the job and made it smaller,” Musgrave says.