US: Trump Sacks Rex Tillerson as State Secretary

He has been replaced by CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

United States President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The move comes after a series of public disagreements between the two on issues ranging from Russia to North Korea.

RELATED:US Ambassador to Mexico Resigns As Bilateral Tensions Soar

Tillerson will be the most senior departure from the Trump administration since he took office more than a year ago and comes amid talks of an unprecedented meeting with the leader of North Korea.

Trump tapped the CIA's deputy director, Gina Haspel, to replace Pompeo at the intelligence agency.

In July, Tillerson had reportedly called Trump a "moron" following the president's suggestion that the U.S. should increase its nuclear arsenal 10-fold. Following media reports, Tillerson refused to directly address whether he had made the comment, although a State Department spokeswoman later issued a denial. 

Reuters quoted a senior White House official who said Trump asked Tillerson to step down on Friday but did not want to make it public while he was on a trip to Africa. Trump's announcement came only a few hours after Tillerson landed in Washington after a trip that had been cut short.  

Tillerson had no diplomatic or political experience before becoming secretary of state. He appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with North Korea's Kim.  

@realDonaldTrump Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! 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!

"Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! 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!" Trump said on Twitter. 

Tillerson joined a long list of senior officials who have either resigned or been fired since Trump took office in January 2017. Others include strategist Steve Bannon, national security adviser Michael Flynn, FBI Director James Comey, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, health secretary Tom Price, communications directors Hope Hicks and Anthony Scaramucci, economic adviser Gary Cohn and press secretary Sean Spicer.

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  • Published in World

Kathy Castor urges Rex Tillerson to restore U.S. diplomats to Cuba

Fresh off a Cuban visit last week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is calling on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to return consular officials and diplomatic personnel to the U.S. Embassy in Havana as soon as possible.

Tillerson withdrew 60 percent of diplomats from the embassy in Havana last fall after unexplained attacks harmed at least 22 American government workers and family members. Investigators explored the possibility of a “sonic attack” injuring diplomats through sound waves; they discovered no device nor a culprit.

“While I appreciate your overriding concern with the health and safety of our diplomats following the unexplained health incidents, it is time to increase staffing and re-establish an American presence to serve our interests and our citizens,” the Tampa Democrat wrote in the letter to Tillerson sent Wednesday.

The State Department is scheduled to decide the status of the embassy by next week.

Shortly after Tillerson ordered the removal of U.S. diplomats from Cuba, the State Department then opted to suspend all visa processing in Havana, moving that function to Bogota, Columbia.

Castor, representing a district that is home to one of the largest Cuban-American populations in the country, said it’s “unreasonable and unaffordable” for Cubans who want to travel to Tampa or Miami to go to another country to do so.

The U.S. had provided 1,100 visas a month to Cuban immigrants last year before the diplomatic imbroglio; that number has since trickled down to just 350 per month.

In 2013, Castor became the first member of Congress from Florida to call for removing the Cuban economic embargo, a decision that can only happen via a congressional vote. She has consistently championed the liberalization of the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba since the early part of this decade.

But the diplomatic breakthrough started by President Barack Obama in late 2014 came to a screeching halt when Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Among the policy changes his administration rolled back from the Obama White House was travel.

Last summer, Trump announced that Americans would no longer be able to plan their own private trips to Cuba, and those who did had to go through authorized educational tours, subject to strict new rules and audits to ensure that they are not going just as tourists.

Castor calls that plan “overreaching.”

“This is counterproductive and complicates America’s ability to support everyday Cubans and promote the exchange of ideas,” The Tampa Democrat complains.

Castor visited Cuba earlier this month with fellow Democratic Reps. James McGovern from Massachusetts and Susan Davis from California, as well as Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Gary Peters from Michigan and Ron Wyden from Oregon.

The entire delegation, except for Castor, chose to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro during the visit. Castro will step down in April.

  • Published in Cuba

'Tillerson is Not Pro-Russian', but Unlikely to Seek 'Confrontation' With Moscow

On Thursday, Rex Tillerson was sworn in as the new United States Secretary of State. In relations with Moscow Tillerson is likely to embrace a pragmatic approach, according to Grigory Yarygin, a political analyst and specialist in American politics.

The new US state secretary was sworn in by Vice President Michael Pence. The official ceremony took place in the White House, in the presence of President Donald Trump.

In a congratulatory telegram to Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed hope for a constructive dialogue between Moscow and Washington.

"[The telegram] reads: Russian-US relations continue to play a special role in the modern world, remaining a key factor for ensuring the strategic stability and security. I am hoping for a constructive dialog with you on the whole range of the issues on bilateral and international agenda," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said at a press briefing on Friday.

Tillerson is the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest energy companies. He was harshly criticized by US political establishment for his close business ties with Russia and alleged friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Rex Tillerson is expected to have a pragmatic foreign policy approach, independent from US Congress, according to Grigory Yarygin, a lecturer at the Department for American Studies, the St. Petersburg State University.

"We can say that Tillerson will act independently, just like Donald Trump. They owe Congress nothing. They will act independently despite demands from congressmen. As for his foreign policy, it is likely to be realistic, non-militarized and pragmatic," Yarygin told Radio Sputnik.

The expert suggested that Tillerson is likely to concentrate on Washington’s economic interests and commercial relations.

"He doesn’t have a diplomatic experience, but he is a responsible team player. He also has leader skills. So, I think he will be a good US State Secretary," Yarygin said.

According to him, in building ties with Russia, Tillerson will adhere to a pragmatic approach.

"His starting point will be the fact that Russia acts rationally. There will be no provocations with sanctions. At the same time, he has a hardline view of sanctions and Russia’s foreign policy. I think he will run a deterrence policy towards Moscow, including no criticism and no confrontation," the expert pointed out.

Yarygin’s assumption was echoed by Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian upper house of parliament.

"Tillerson’s rationalism and his commitment to practical results will make the US foreign policy more pragmatic and less ideology-biased," Kosachev told RIA Novosti.

The senator regards the new US State Secretary as a "reliable partner" for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to start a substantial dialogue on the future of US-Russia bilateral relations.

"Of course, Tillerson is not that pro-Russian, as some of his opponents have portrayed him. He also made a series of harsh statements about Russia during hearings in Congress. But this is not what he really thinks," Kosachev concluded.

  • Published in World

Trump taps ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state

President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Rex Tillerson to be the 69th secretary of state. The ExxonMobil CEO will also serve as a member of the National Security Council.

A statement from Trump’s transition team on Tuesday says Tillerson, 64, is "a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests" and will “help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened America's security and standing in the world.”

 
 

“Rex Tillerson’s career is the embodiment of the American dream. Through hard work, dedication and smart deal making, Rex rose through the ranks to become CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest and most respected companies,” Trump said in the statement announcing the news.

President-Elect Donald J. Trump Intends to Nominate Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State

(New York, NY) – President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate Mr. Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, to serve as Secretary of the United States Department of State.

Among the most accomplished business leaders and international dealmakers in the world, Mr. Tillerson has spent his career protecting the jobs of his employees, who number more than 70,000....

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Tillerson will replace the current Secretary of State John Kerry, who took over the role in February 2013. Agencies under its responsibility include the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Mission to the United Nations (USUN). The secretary of state is fourth in the presidential line of succession.

Tillerson was backed by former holders of the position Condoleeza Rice and James Baker, as well as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, according to Reuters.

In 2011, Tillerson sealed a deal with Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft on behalf of ExxonMobil, giving Exxon access to the Russian Arctic and Rosneft a stake in the US company’s projects in North America.

READ MORE: State Department frontrunner is Exxon Mobil exec honored with Russian state award by Putin

Speaking at a press conference in Belgrade following the announcement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “We accept this as a decision by the president-elect of the United States and, as President Putin had underlined on numerous occasions we’re ready to work with any partners who are interested in developing comprehensive relations with Russia.”

Kremlin foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov described Tillerson as being “well known to the Russian representatives and was actively involved in business cooperation.”

“He is respectable and very professional,” added Ushakov. “Not only the Russian president, but Russian representatives have good business relationships with him.”

Following US-imposed economic sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, the deal ended and Exxon was estimated to have incurred losses of $1 billion. He has advocated for ties between the two nations to be restored.

In 2013, Vladimir Putin presented the Texan with the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors a foreigner may be awarded from Russia.

“To me a great advantage is that he knows many of the players in the world and he knows them well,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Sunday. “He does massive deals in Russia not for himself, but for the company.”

READ MORE: Exxon has lost over $1 billion from Russian sanctions

Tillerson has acknowledged that humans have contributed to climate change but claims that the exact extent is unknown, rendering any proposed solutions useless. "The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not," he said at a meeting of Exxon’s shareholders this year.

He has also shown support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement which Trump vehemently opposes. In a 2013 statement Tillerson called the TPP a “promising development” that would “open markets to growth and progress for every nation.”

Trump was rumored to be considering former CIA Director David Petraeus, former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani and former Governor of Massachusetts and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for the role, before settling on Tillerson.

The Department of State was created in 1789 to “shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.”

  • Published in World
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