Trump on 'Same Wavelength' With Pompeo; Tillerson Had 'Different Mindset'

By Susan Jones | March 13, 2018 | 9:26 AM EDT

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sits next to President Donald Trump at a Cabinet meeting. (Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

( - In a Twitter message Tuesday morning, President Trump announced some major changes in his administration:

"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!"

Haspel is the current deputy director of the CIA, and she may face a tough confirmation fight, based on opposition already coming in from groups such as the ACLU.

Pompeo is taking over the State Department at a time when President Trump expects to speak face-to-face with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Departing the White House for California shortly after his Twitter bombshell, President Trump said he wishes Tillerson well.

"He is a good man," Trump told reporters. He said he disagreed with Tillerson on a number of things, including the Iran deal. "So we were not really thinking the same," the president said.

Trump said he "actually got along well with Rex, but it was a different mindset."

Trump said he's on the "same wavelength" as Mike Pompeo, describing Pompeo as having "tremendous energy, tremendous intellect."  

"The relationship has been very good, and that's what I need in a secretary of state," Trump said. "I think Mike Pompeo will be a truly great secretary of state. I have total confidence in him, and as far as Rex Tillerson is concerned, I very much appreciate his committment and his service, and I wish him well. He's a good man."

Trump said he thinks Rex Tillerson will be "much happier now" -- now that he's leaving, that is.

Trump said he's at the point "where we're getting very close to having the cabinet and other things that I want."

State Dep’t: Tillerson did not speak to Trump

The State Department issued a statement after Tillerson’s firing, saying, “The secretary had every intention of staying” in the job “because of critical progress made in national security.”

Steve Goldstein, the undersecretary for public diplomacy, said Tillerson will miss his colleagues at State and foreign ministers around the world.

“The secretary did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason,” the statement said.­­­­­­­ “But he is grateful for the opportunity to serve and believes public service is a noble calling. He wishes secetary-designate Pompeo well.”

Tillerson was publicly reprimanded by Trump last fall, when he told the Chinese that the U.S. wanted to start talking to the North Korean regime.

In two tweets on Oct. 1, the president undercut his secretary of state: "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man...Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!"

Later that same day, Trump tweeted: "Being nice to Rocket Man hasn't worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won't fail."

Trump and Tillerson reportedly have clashed on a number of fronts since Tillerson took the helm of the State Department.

But Tillerson told CNN in January he expected to be secretary of state for the full year, and he said President Trump had given him no indication that he might be fired. Tillerson, in that same interview, said he has no reason to question Trump's mental fitness for office.

Last year, Tillerson refused to respond to press reports that he had called President Trump a "moron."

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