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Trump cans Tillerson
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13 Mar 2018 11:39 AM EST

-by Tyrone Townsend, Staff Writer; Image: Rex Tillerson (Image Source:Wikimedia) 

Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions and policy of Allmediany and related companies 

President Trump has removed Rex Tillerson from his position as Secretary of State and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. “I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State,” Trump said. “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 continued, “Gina Haspel, the Deputy Director of the CIA, will be nominated to replace Director Pompeo and she will be the CIA’s first-ever female director, a historic milestone. Mike and Gina have worked together for more than a year, and have developed a great mutual respect.” Trump also had words of praise for Tillerson: “Finally, I want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service. A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well.”  

Trump and Tillerson have had a volatile relationship since the beginning of the president’s term in office. Tillerson, the former boss of ExxonMobil, disputed with Trump over policy, leaks, and humiliation by Trump himself.

Published reports state Tillerson took a jab at the president calling him a “moron,” but Tillerson denied making the insult. The reports led to Trump challenging his secretary of state to a battle of wits. Trump slammed Tillerson’s diplomatic solution to solve the situation in North Korea. Tillerson wanted to open the lines of communication about the nuclear and ballistic programs; Trump responded on Twitter Oct 1st that Tillerson was “wasting his time.”

Tillerson is the second Cabinet official to resign and leaves behind a State Department that critics believe is a remnant of its former glory due to Tillerson’s disconnection in the department and the White House’s indifference for appointing top diplomats. Tillerson had no previous government experience on his resume.

Tillerson’s lack of any previous government experience, his potential conflicts of interest due to his chairmanship of Exxon Mobil, and his connections to Putin made him a problematic candidate for the most important cabinet position. Political appointees shape policy. Without those skilled individuals, career diplomats step up then play by ear on how to deal with making decisions and formulating policies. The victim, in the long run, is America. Under Tillerson’s care, 60 percent of the State’s high ranking diplomats resigned, and new applications to join were cut in half. He eliminated entire segments of the department, like the department that tracked war crimes.

He publicly defended a Trump administration proposal to cut his department’s budget by 30 percent, and at the time of his departure was pushing a plan to reduce the permanent staff by eight percent despite repeated rebukes from Congress. He cut the department off from vital recruiting sources, like the Presidential Management Fellow program.

Blame does not only lie in the hands of Tillerson. Trump is steering his administration into treacherous waters due to the lack of political appointees in every department. The White House dismissed every top pick Tillerson wanted until he yelled at a group of White House aides in a meeting.

Trump abhorred the idea of learning from the experienced personnel in the State Department; he preferred to push his agenda ahead. Few qualified individuals want to work in the Trump administration because they think that line on their résumé will be a career-killer.

Trump bragged that he shrunk the size of the federal government. Trump does not want an agency that gives him competition and perhaps disagrees with his agenda. The state department is filled with professional diplomats, and Trump hates diplomacy. He prefers threats and arm-twisting.  

Maybe if Tillerson had developed closer relationships with State’s career staff, he would have understood supporting budget cuts to his department, and staff downsizing would demoralize them.

Maybe he would have been able to develop new ideas that would have gotten the president’s ear. He could have been able to convince the White House to trust his judgment on political appointees.

However, the truth is we will not know because Tillerson, to a degree nearly unprecedented in State’s history, failed even to try to work with his department.

All of which begs the question: Why did this multi-millionaire leave his cushy job at the head of one of the world’s most giant corporations and then take a job at a government bureaucracy he did not understand and seemingly didn’t respect?

It is a question only Tillerson can answer. Moreover, right now, it does not seem like he is in the mood for much talking.

 

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