President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is removing Rex Tillerson after a rocky tenure and nominating CIA Director Mike Pompeo in his place, a shake-up that appeared to take the secretary of state by surprise.
"I've worked with Mike Pompeo now for quite some time," Trump told reporters outside the White House. "Tremendous energy. Tremendous intellect. We're always on the same wavelength. The relationship has been very good, and that's what I need as secretary of state."
Trump said he and Tillerson did not see eye-to-eye on major foreign policy issues, naming as an example the Iran nuclear deal. The president said he wanted to back out of the agreement, but he said Tillerson supported staying in.
"I wish Rex Tillerson well," the president said. "I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want."
"I think Rex will be much happier now," he said.
Trump and Tillerson have been frequently at odds since the former ExxonMobil CEO took over at Foggy Bottom. But a spokesman for Tillerson said Tuesday he had not been planning to leave and wasn't sure why he was being ousted now.