In Replacing Tillerson With Pompeo, Trump Turns to Loyalists Who Reflect ‘America First’ Views
President Trump ousted on Tuesday his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, the most dramatic in a cascade of personnel moves that suggest Mr. Trump is determined to surround himself with loyalists more willing to reflect his "America First" views.
Mr. Trump announced he would replace Mr. Tillerson with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director and former Tea Party congressman, who has cultivated a close relationship with the president and has taken a harder line than Mr. Tillerson on critical issues like Iran and North Korea.
Mr. Tillerson's dismissal, on the heels of Gary D. Cohn's resignation as Mr. Trump's chief economic adviser after a dispute over steel tariffs, pulls the Trump administration further out of the economic and foreign policy mainstream and closer to the nationalist ideas that animated Mr. Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
It also suggests that after a year of chaotic on-the-job training, Mr. Trump has developed more confidence in his own instincts and wants aides and cabinet members with whom he has good chemistry and who embrace his positions.
As the White House absorbed the news about Mr. Tillerson, rumors swirled that the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, and the secretary of Veterans Affairs, David J. Shulkin, would soon follow him out the door. The sense of disarray was deepened by the purging of Mr. Tillerson's inner circle and the sudden dismissal of a personal aide to Mr. Trump.
"I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the cabinet and other things I want," Mr. Trump said Tuesday before leaving for a trip to California. He said he disagreed with Mr. Tillerson on the Iran nuclear deal and on other issues.