A key Cabinet official was canned and another promoted, while one of the president’s closest aides was escorted from the White House on Tuesday in one of the busiest – and most chaotic – days of the Trump administration.
It all started when President Donald Trump unceremoniously fired his embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an unexpected morning tweet and announced he was giving Tillerson’s job to CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
In the same tweet, Trump named Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s deputy at the spy agency, the new director of the CIA.
News then broke that John McEntee, a former UConn quarterback who serves as the president’s personal aide, was ousted from his official job, given a new job with the Trump campaign and escorted from the White House under mysterious circumstances.
Then a few hours later, a top Tillerson aide, Steve Goldstein, lost his job at the State Department after issuing a statement about how Tillerson didn’t understand why he was being fired.
In all the chaos, though, Trump is expressing confidence that the changes will be positive for his administration.
“I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want,” Trump told reporters Tuesday at the White House.
A senior White House official told Fox News the president decided to swap out Tillerson for Pompeo ahead of his coming meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
“The president wanted to make sure to have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talks with North Korea and various ongoing trade negotiations,” the adviser said.
Speaking to reporters before leaving for California, Trump acknowledged he and Tillerson have had disagreements. The president said he and Pompeo have a “similar thought process.”
“We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things,” Trump said of Tillerson. “When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he felt it was okay…So we were not really thinking the same.”
Trump praised Pompeo for his “tremendous energy, tremendous intellect.”
“We’re always on the same wave length,” he said. “The relationship has always been very good. That’s what I need as secretary of state.”
Tillerson, the former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was tapped as Trump’s first secretary of state. But the two have clashed over foreign policy strategies over the last year.
A White House source told Fox News that Chief of Staff John Kelly called Tillerson Friday to tell him Trump wanted him to step aside. Tillerson, the source said, asked if Trump could wait for him to get back from his trip to Africa.
Tillerson returned to the United States on Tuesday morning, as Trump pulled the trigger on his firing.
During remarks at the State Department on Tuesday afternoon, Tillerson said Trump called him “a little after noontime” from Air Force One, several hours after he was fired.