Another prominent member of the Trump administration is out.
This morning, Pres. Trump tweeted that Mike Pompeo—who is the previous director of the CIA—will replace Rex Tillerson as the Secretary of State. According to press secretary Sarah Sanders, Trump asked Tillerson to step aside from the role.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
While the White House says it notified Tillerson of his firing last week, various reports indicate that he found out via Twitter this morning, and the State Department’s official statement says, “The Secretary did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason.”
Remarkable statement from State Department spokesman on Tillerson firing: pic.twitter.com/iBpLaK1tXw
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 13, 2018
— Javi Morgado (@javimorgado) March 13, 2018
— NBC News PR (@NBCNewsPR) March 13, 2018
Yesterday, he diverged from the official White House story about a serious story involving Russia.
On March 4, a man described as a Russia double agent and his daughter were poisoned by what British Prime Minister Theresa May described as a “military grade” nerve agent in the U.K. Both the British government and Tillerson believe Russia was involved.
Tillerson said that the attempted murders of the ex-spy were the work of Russia. In a statement, he said:
We have full confidence in the U.K.’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible for the nerve agent attack that took place in Salisbury last week. There is never a justification for this type of attack—the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation—and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior. From Ukraine to Syria—and now the U.K.—Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.
He added that if Russia is involved, “It certainly will trigger a response. I’ll leave it at that.”
However, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stopped short of blaming Russia in her official White House response, even when asked about it directly. “The attack was reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible. We offer the fullest condemnation, and we extend our sympathy to the victims and their families and our support to the U.K. government. We stand by our closest ally and the special relationship that we have.”
As The Washington Post noted, “Sanders said repeatedly that the United States stands with its ally, Britain, but it didn’t join its conclusions about Russia’s involvement yet.”