President Trump announced on Tuesday that he had ousted secretary of state Rex W. Tillerson and will replace him with Mike Pompeo, now the Central Intelligence Agency director, ending the 14-month tenure of the nation's chief diplomat who repeatedly had found himself at odds with the White House on a variety of key foreign policy issues.
Trump specifically cited the Iran nuclear deal, which he wanted to pull the US out of against Tillerson's recommendations.
In recent months, Haspel has been running the day-to-day operations at the agency, while Pompeo spent a lot of time at the White House, according to former and current CIA officials with knowledge of the matter and a former White House official.
The president said that while he personally likes Tillerson and got along with him, the two disagreed on important policy issues, including the Iran nuclear deal, and had "different mindsets". Tillerson was reportedly not given specific advance notice of his termination, and he said that he received a call from the president around noon, three hours after the tweet. "I don't think today's announcement should have surprised anybody", Cruz, a Republican, told reporters Tuesday.
The Texan's last day as secretary will be March 31, when he just might breathe a big sigh of relief.
He said he would delegate all authority to Deputy Secretary John Sullivan, who will serve as acting secretary until Pompeo is confirmed.
It is unclear how Mike Pompeo becoming USA secretary of state may affect the Iran nuclear deal given that there is only one voice that counts in President Donald Trump's administration: his own.
But Democrats quickly pounced on the news. Trump told reporters he has worked very closely with Haspel and regards her as "an outstanding person". A hearing for Pompeo is expected in April.
The decision was met with public outrage, and Tillerson's aide Steve Goldstein was one of the many people inside the White House who issued a statement regretting the ousting of Tillerson. A spokesman for Tillerson said the secretary of state "had every intention of staying" in his job and was "unaware of the reason" for his firing.
Then Goldstein, hours after making those comments, was fired, too.
Tillerson highlighted what he believed were successes under his leadership at the department, such as the "maximum pressure" policy to force the North Korean leadership to the negotiating table by increasing the "scope and effectiveness of the sanctions" against the regime.
A respected businessman, his tenure drew scorn from Trump's opponents and the Washington policy elite.
Most recently, the pair co-hosted the Vancouver Summit, a gathering of worldwide partners organized to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
Alarmed by the increasingly bellicose rhetoric on both sides, Freeland and Tillerson started discussing plans for an worldwide gathering to demonstrate support for diplomacy. "I made that decision by myself".