Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired on Twitter after returning from an Africa trip in which he was out of the loop on North Korean talks and contradicted the White House position on Russia’s responsibility for poisoning a former double agent in the United Kingdom.
Tillerson had engaged with North Korea even when the president said — again via Twitter — that he was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”
Now, Trump is heading into an unprecedented face-to-face meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un over that country’s nuclear program. The timing of Tillerson’s dismissal was designed to allow Trump to put a new team in place in advance of those talks, said a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a personnel decision.
Trump’s new nominee to head the State Department is CIA director Mike Pompeo, a hard-liner on Iran and North Korea who is much more in line with Trump’s more militant instincts.