President Donald Trump has tapped CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican, to serve as his new secretary of state.
Rumors that Pompeo, a former Wichita congressman, would replace Rex Tillerson as the country’s top diplomat had circulated for months following tension between Trump and Tillerson.
Trump officially made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday morning.
“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.
Pompeo said in a statement that he was "deeply grateful to President Trump for permitting me to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for this opportunity to serve as Secretary of State. His leadership has made America safer and I look forward to representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America’s prosperity."
The Washington Post reported Tuesday morning that Trump had asked Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil executive, to step aside Friday.
Pompeo previously spent six years in the U.S. House representing Kansas’ 4th congressional district, which covers Wichita and the surrounding region.
A top State Department official says Trump never explained to ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the reason why he was fired.
The undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, Steve Goldstein, says Tillerson "had every intention of staying" in the job because he felt he was making critical progress in national security.
Two White House officials said Tillerson was told he was out on Friday. The sources weren't authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.
But Goldstein says Tillerson "did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason."
Trump's choice to be the first female director of the CIA is a career spymaster who once ran an agency prison in Thailand where terror suspects were subjected to a harsh interrogation technique that the president has supported.
Haspel, the current deputy CIA director, also helped carry out an order that the agency destroy its waterboarding videos. That order prompted a lengthy Justice Department investigation that ended without charges.
Haspel, who has extensive overseas experience, briefly ran a secret CIA prison where accused terrorists Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Haspel, who joined the CIA in 1985, has been chief of station at CIA outposts abroad. In Washington, she has held several top senior leadership positions, including deputy director of the National Clandestine Service and deputy director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action.
The Associated Press contributed to this report