President Donald Trump unceremoniously dumped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday - by tweet - and picked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to take his place, abruptly ending Tillerson's turbulent tenure as America's top diplomat and escalating the administration's chaotic second-year shake-up.
Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey did not seem shocked at how Trump fired Tillerson, calling the president the "commander in chaos". Trump tweeted, "He will do a fantastic job!"
"Rex Tillerson's cozy relationship with the Kremlin is especially alarming in light of his attitude toward sanctions over Russia's aggressive behavior in Europe, while at the same time the President-elect continues to side with Russian Federation over the judgment of the US intelligence community", she wrote. Tillerson was a moderating voice and more in line with mainstream thinking on foreign policy than the president he irritated once too often, but he was a bad fit for the job.
It was a chaotic morning that followed months of tension between the two men.
He was repeatedly forced to deny he had fallen out with Trump - vowing to remain in the post despite a sensational report that he once dubbed the president a "moron".
Many of Trump's top national security aides, like Tillerson, have argued that the United States is better off with the Iran nuclear deal than without it. These are just a few examples of why a healthy State Department, and a secretary of state who speaks with the authority of the president, are vital to USA national security.More news: Serena Williams to launch cosmetics line
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Trump delivered an ultimatum to the European powers on January 12, saying they must agree to "fix the bad flaws of the Iran nuclear deal" or he would refuse to extend US sanctions relief on Iran that it calls for. "I think it's important we just continue to say to Russia, 'Look, you think we don't see what you're doing. I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently".
On Monday, the day before Tillerson's termination, a White House spokesperson criticized a reporter for indicating that there may have been a split between Trump and Tillerson. But Steve Goldstein, a State Department undersecretary of state for public affairs, said Tillerson did not know why he was being pushed out and had meant to stay.
The odds are microscopic that direct talks between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will lead to an agreement for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.
"He has a very good rapport with the president", said the lawmaker. "The president is intent on delivering this solution through diplomatic means", Pompeo told me during a recent conversation at the American Enterprise Institute.
If confirmed by the US Senate after an April committee hearing, Pompeo will be taking over a State Department shaken by the departures of many senior diplomats and embittered by proposed budget cuts.
Mike Pompeo now awaits confirmation from the Senate.