Rex Tillerson is out as secretary of state. President Trump announced the move this morning. CIA Director Mike Pompeo will move from Langley to State and succeed him. Tillerson’s departure hardly registers as much of a surprise. The former SecState’s relationship with President Trump was riddled with tension, and suspicion on both sides. Tillerson never embraced Trump’s America First doctrine, and his loyalty was never 100 percent there. The condition of the State Department might’ve also played a role in Trump’s decision. State, to put it bluntly, is a wreck. Under Tillerson’s command, US diplomacy was adrift and never fully in sync with the foreign policy positions of the White House.
The timing of the move makes perfect sense. Trump needs an effective SecState to help him craft a strategy for upcoming talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Those talks are expected to take place before May, leaving little time for the administration to complete preparations and construct a viable strategy. Tillerson was not a major contributor when it came to North Korea. He contradicted the position of the White House in public on more than one occasion. To add insult to injury, Tillerson apparently did not learn of his dismissal until he read President Trump’s tweet this morning.
Pompeo’s Senate confirmation hearing will be scheduled for sometime in April.