U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he had replaced U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, and appointed Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Gina Haspel was last year appointed as the first ever female deputy director of CIA and has now made more history in her appointment to the highest position at the agency.
“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!” Trump said on Twitter.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Tillerson’s sacking represents the biggest shakeup of the Trump Cabinet so far and had been expected since last October when reports surfaced about a falling out between Trump and Tillerson, 65, who left his position as chief executive of Exxon Mobil to join the administration.
Trump publicly undercut Tillerson’s diplomatic initiatives numerous times, including on Monday when the former secretary of state’s comments about Russia appeared to be at odds with those of the White House.
Tillerson also appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with North Korea’s leader and become the first sitting U.S. president to do so.
On Monday, Tillerson cut short his Africa tour to return to Washington citing pressing business needs awaiting him.
He had visited and held strategic meetings with heads of state in Ethiopia, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria.
Haspel is a career intelligence officer, having joined the CIA in 1985. She has extensive overseas experience and served as Chief of Station in several of her assignments.
In Washington, Haspel has held numerous senior leadership positions at CIA, including as Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action, Chief of Staff for the Director of the National Clandestine Service, and in the Counterterrorist Center.
Haspel is the recipient of numerous awards including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism; the Donovan Award; the Intelligence Medal of Merit; and the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious award in the federal civil service.
In 2017, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights called on the Public Prosecutor General of Germany to issue an arrest warrant against Haspel over claims she oversaw the torture of terrorism suspects.
The complaint against her is centered on the case of Saudi national Abu Zubaydah, who was held in 2002 as an Al Qaeda suspect at a CIA prison in Thailand.