On Tuesday, the president announced he has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the embattled U.S. diplomatic chief who had become deeply unpopular with conservatives. President Trump will replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a former congressman with Tea Party bona fides.
The president said in a statement to the Washington Post:
“I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State. Mike graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.”
The president nominated Gina Haspel — deputy director of the CIA (the number two position at the agency) — to replace Pompeo. If she is confirmed by Congress, Haspel will be become the first female CIA director in American history.
Pompeo released a statement shortly after the president announced his nomination
NEW Statement from Mike Pompeo, Trump’s new pick for Secretary State: pic.twitter.com/1WG6IYVygn
— Fin Gomez (@finnygo) March 13, 2018
Americans will almost certainly see the incoming secretary of state steer a new course for U.S. foreign affairs. On countless policy issues, Pompeo will likely depart from Tillerson’s previously held positions.
Pompeo views both China and Russia as the biggest threats to the long-term stability of the United States. Additionally, as CIA director, he continually raised awareness about North Korea’s rapidly developing nuclear program.
Pompeo has long been a fierce opponent of the Iran nuclear deal. Tillerson, on the other hand, fought to keep the Iran deal in place. Will the Iran deal finally make its way into the ash heap of history now that Tillerson has departed?
Pompeo is a stalwart ally to the State of Israel. In Congress, he developed a reputation as a reliable friend to the Middle East’s lone democracy. Tillerson has long been an Arabist. He was strongly opposed to President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He was also against moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On multiple occasions, Tillerson attempted to use the embassy move as a bargaining chip to blackmail Israel into making painful concessions to the Palestinians.
The incoming secretary of state has a long track record of tackling Islamic terror support networks. While serving as a Kansas congressman, Pompeo co-sponsored a bill designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, Tillerson consistently balked at labeling the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group, worrying that doing so would be “problematic.” The outgoing secretary of state found himself on the wrong side of the Gulf dispute involving Qatar’s support for terrorism. Too often, he turned his back on American allies in the Gulf while providing cover for Doha’s nefarious activities.
Perhaps Pompeo’s toughest task moving forward has nothing to do with foreign relations. In order to fight for American interests abroad, he must first fix the mess at home that is the organizational bureaucracy at Foggy Bottom. Will Pompeo succeed where Tillerson failed, in draining the swamp of Obama holdovers and anti-Trump, leftist civil service bureaucrats who continue to populate the upper ranks of the State Department?