Thursday, 26 April, 2018

Tillerson thanks govt. staff, U.S. public in speech

Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel speaks at the OSS Society's annual William J. Donovan Dinner in 2017. YouTube  The OSS Society Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel speaks at the OSS Society's annual William J. Donovan Dinner in 2017. YouTube The OSS Society
Pete Mitchell | 15 March, 2018, 06:09

US President Donald Trump has sacked America's top diplomat Rex Tillerson via Twitter after 14 months as secretary of state.

"Tillerson finally stood up to Trump on the question of Russian influence and is removed".

In recent months, Trump and Tillerson have had several public disagreements, specifically over how to deal with North Korea.

His uncompromising game of chicken with North Korea's Kim Jong-un may just lead to a historic summit.

Pompeo is a former three-term Republican Congressman known for his strong opposition to Iran nuclear deal, defended the CIA's use of torture in the past, and shutting down of Guantanamo Bay prison.

Tillerson was notified Friday that he could be replaced, leading him to return home from an Africa trip a day early, according to American news outlets.

Trump's decision to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports was the final straw for the former Wall Street banker.

"The secretary did not speak to the president this morning and is unaware of the reason" for his dismissal, said Steve Goldstein, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, in a statement Tuesday before he himself was dismissed.

Pompeo will be grilled on his policy positions when he comes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a confirmation hearing.

"As a 30-year professional in the Central Intelligence Agency, I have much more comfort in that than putting someone in who is a politician", Nelson said. If approved by the Senate, Haspel will become the first female director of the agency. Unlike Tillerson's strained relationship with Trump, Pompeo's close personal relationship with the president and his experience in briefing Trump in person every day is likely to bring the positions of the State Department more closely in sync with the White House.

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Tillerson's sack came after a series of public rifts over issues, including North Korea and Russian Federation.

European diplomats saw some chance Pompeo may have more influence over Trump than Tillerson, who antagonized the USA president by reportedly calling him a "moron" and who differed with Trump on Iran and other issues. Last week, top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, quit after Trump announced trade tariffs that would affect U.S. allies.

"This is going to reopen wounds from a decade and more ago, and also invite more oversight of both our analyses and our activities, especially if Gina is confirmed", said one USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Tillerson also reportedly called Trump a "moron" after a meeting of cabinet and national security officials last summer.

"And we commenced the steps to dramatically increase not just the scope, but the effectiveness of the sanctions" he said.

He predicts Trump will now be relying more heavily on gut instinct, which is "pretty scary". A conservative Republican, he has criticized the Iran agreement as well as Muslim immigrants. Top economic adviser Gary Cohn announced his resignation last week, not long after communications director Hope Hicks and staff secretary Rob Porter both departed near the start of Trump's second year in office.

The new secretary will inherit a weakened State Department. Hoeven said it's important, especially with upcoming talks with North Korea "that the president has the team in place that he feels will best rise to the challenge". An appointment for the ambassador to South Korea fell apart at the last minute.

But the State Department plays a direct and key role in climate change - not just in worldwide climate negotiations, but also in global aid and development, including choices about which energy sources developing countries should choose - so, such non-answers given as by Pompeo previously should not fly this time around.

"This is not someone who has sharp elbows, but she is a sharp competitor", said a former senior intelligence official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss Haspel.

Kushner has been counting on the Gulf leaders to support his still-unrevealed peace plan, a prospect that was already thrown into doubt when Trump announced - over Tillerson's objections - U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and plans to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

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