President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday and said he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him, ending Tillerson’s difficult tenure by tweeting an ouster that had been long expected and yet was shocking in its abruptness.
“We disagreed on things,” Trump said moments later, a diplomatic version of a difficult relationship with his top diplomat that included reports that Tillerson had called the president a moron in meetings with other officials.
Speculation that Tillerson would be fired grew with those reports last fall, and the secretary of state never personally denied their accuracy. It spiked again in November when White House officials told multiple news outlets of a plan to replace him with Pompeo. But Tillerson continued to hang on, pointing out that his doubters had yet to be proven right.
Trump’s change puts an ardent foe of the Iran nuclear deal in charge of U.S. diplomacy as the president also dives into high-stakes talks with North Korea.
Trump mentioned differences over how to handle the Iran agreement, which he wanted to withdraw from. “So we were not really thinking the same.”