By Ugonnabo Ngwu
The United States, U.S President Donald Trump on Tuesday sacked his Secretary of State, Mr. Rex Tillerson, replacing him with the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo.
But, this sack has been long in coming given that NBC News had reported last October that Tillerson called Trump a “moron” in a meeting in Pentagon.
Trump, who was not present at the Pentagon meeting, was said to have been in the know of the insult by the former Exxon Mobil CEO, prior to when it was reported in media.
Reacting shortly after the news went viral early October, Tillerson, who failed to directly deny that he’d called Trump a “moron”, insisted that he enjoys a close relationship with Trump and called him “smart”.
“I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,” Tillerson said from the State Department Treaty Room. “I’m just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration.”
Trump, at the time however sided with his secretary of state, tweeting that: “The @NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec. Tillerson and @VP Pence. It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!”
The President would later tell reporters inside a Las Vegas hospital that he has “total confidence” in Tillerson and called reports that the secretary of state called him a moron “fake news” and “totally made up”.
Twenty-four hours before his sack, Tillerson glaringly departed from White House’s position when he backed British authorities in blaming the Kremlin for the poisoning of a former Russian spy near his home in southern England.
Earlier in the day, the White House had declined to point the finger at Russia over the incident in London, but the secretary of state said the nerve agent attack “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response”.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Tuesday after the sack was announced; Trump said his differences with Tillerson came down to personal “chemistry”.
According to him, “We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things.
“When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was OK.
“I wanted to either break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently, so we were not really thinking the same,” he said.
The chief diplomat was on an official tour of Africa last week when he was apparently caught unawares by Trump’s announcement that he would hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The top US diplomat’s team said he was feeling unwell on Saturday and later in the weekend the state department said he would cut short his tour by a day.
Reactions have already started trailing the ouster of the secretary of state, with a scholar of US foreign policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Paul Musgrave said, “Tillerson would be at or near the bottom of the list of secretaries of state, not just in the post-Second World War world but in the record of US secretaries of state”.
An Obama-era State Department official, Ilan Goldenberg, tweeted, “I think he really will go down as one of the worst secretaries of State we’ve had,” Eliot Cohen, counselor to the State Department under President George W. Bush, told Axios’s Jonathan Swan. “He will go down as the worst Secretary of State in history”.
In the main, Trump last week posted on Twitter that he had a few more staff changes he wanted to make. This disclosure has led many to believe that the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, would be next in the line of fire.
The American President is said to be “red-hot about Kelly trying to control him,” and has reportedly interviewed John Bolton, who served as George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations, as a replacement. There was a report on Thursday that Kelly warned President Trump to be careful about talking to witnesses in the Russia investigation.
Trump reportedly spoke with former chief of staff Reince Priebus and White House counsel Don McGahn about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe that was looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump campaign associates have any ties with Russians.