What Tillerson's firing means: Three questions




  • In World
  • 2018-03-13 14:28:00Z
  • By Christian Science Monitor

President Trump's announcement Tuesday that he has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and will nominate current CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Mr. Tillerson's replacement, was far from unexpected.

In some ways, the relationship between Mr. Trump and Tillerson could be described as a chronicle of a firing foretold. The two men never seemed to click on a personal level, and Tillerson differed with his boss on many major diplomatic issues, from the placement of the US Embassy in Jerusalem to the withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate accords to how to deal with North Korea and its unpredictable leader Kim Jong-un.

Some news outlets were predicting Tillerson's imminent departure as early as last November. Like a stopped clock finally showing the correct time when it comes around, that prediction has at last come true.

But Tillerson's departure raises as many questions as it answers. Here are some that stand out:

WILL FOGGY BOTTOM AND THE WHITE HOUSE NOW SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE?

The obvious policy differences between Tillerson and Trump were confusing to America's allies, who never knew which person to listen to, the blustery Tweeter-in-Chief or the soothing diplomat who seemed to exemplify continuity. As recently as Monday night, Tillerson issued a strong statement condemning the alleged attack by Russia on a former Russian spy living in Britain, after White House spokesman Sarah Sanders had declined to link Russia to the crime.

Mr. Pompeo, at the CIA, has been much more deft about making his statements line up with Trumpian policy. Will that coordination be maintained on a larger stage? That might involve more breaks with traditional US diplomatic positions.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT REORGANIZATION?

Tillerson was unpopular with the rank and file, due to his austere, withdrawn presence, and to his plans to decimate State Department employment in the name of efficiency. His decision to end the practice of the US government hiring the spouses of foreign service officers overseas was particularly unpopular with many lower-level diplomats.

Will Pompeo, if confirmed, keep Tillerson's reductions? That's a question many are asking in Foggy Bottom this morning.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR TRUMP'S CABINET AND WHITE HOUSE STAFF?

Trump has denied that his White House is chaotic, but the dismissal of his State Department chief can only add to that perception. There is talk that the president wants to finally free himself from aides who try to hold his hand, and run things the way he wants to. If that's true, Tillerson's exit might presage the replacement of others, up to Chief of Staff John Kelly.

The cabinet in particular seems dysfunctional at the moment. Many members are immersed in mini-scandals of their own, from HUD Chief Ben Carson's purchase of an overly expensive dining set and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's reported $139,000 tab for office doors, to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her policy stumbles in a "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday night. In that context, Tillerson seemed an island of restraint. But the fact that Trump did not believe the secretary of State had his back appears to have doomed him in the end.

Read this story at csmonitor.com

Become a part of the Monitor community

COMMENTS

More Related News

Comey: Russia investigation initially looked at 4 Americans
Comey: Russia investigation initially looked at 4 Americans

The FBI's counterintelligence investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia initially focused on four Americans and whether they were connected to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, former FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers during hours

Comey faces off with GOP over Clinton emails, alleged bias
Comey faces off with GOP over Clinton emails, alleged bias

Former FBI Director James Comey spoke to House investigators behind closed doors for almost seven hours Friday, begrudgingly answering questions about the Justice Department's decisions during the 2016 presidential election. Comey, who appeared under subpoena, announced after the meeting that he

Mueller: ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort lied to investigators about funds, contacts
Mueller: ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort lied to investigators about funds, contacts
  • US
  • 2018-12-07 23:55:50Z

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to federal investigators about a payment and contacts with Trump administration officials, the U.S. special counsel investigating whether Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with Russia said in a court filing on Friday. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office submitted the filing to a U.S. District Court judge in Washington who had asked for more details on Mueller's allegations last month that Manafort had breached a plea agreement by lying.

Mueller
Mueller's filings on Trump ex-aides to shed new light on Russia probe

Mueller last month accused Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, of breaching a plea bargain agreement by lying to prosecutors, and he will submit information on those alleged lies in a filing to a federal court in Washington. The filing could shed new light on Manafort's business dealings or his consulting for pro-Kremlin interests in Ukraine. Manafort, who maintains he has been truthful with Mueller, managed Trump's campaign for three months in 2016.

Trump to pick State Department spokeswoman for U.N. ambassador: White House officials
Trump to pick State Department spokeswoman for U.N. ambassador: White House officials

Nauert, whose nomination would require Senate confirmation, is a former Fox News Channel correspondent and anchor. If confirmed, Nauert, 48, would succeed Nikki Haley, who said in October she would be leaving the U.N. post at the end of the year. It was unclear whether the U.N. ambassador post would

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.