"We are getting very close to having the cabinet that I want," President Donald Trump told reporters after announcing the dismissal of his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and before embarking via San Diego to visit the pilot models of his border wall.
As reported by the Washington Post, Trump would have told Tillerson last Friday about his dismissal, which caused the diplomat to advance his return to Washington from Africa on Monday. When landing in the country, Tillerson still didn’t know the reasons for his notice, especially after having assured for months that he had "every intention to stay."
Although several media announced since last November that Trump was already considering the option of dismissing Tillerson - especially after disagreements on key international issues such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the nuclear agreement with Iran - the diplomat has been the most conflictive character with the president and yet the one that’s taken longer to leave his cabinet.
"We disagreed on things… The Iran deal," Trump told reporters on Tuesday. "So we're not thinking the same. With Mike Pompeo, we have a similar thought process," Trump said.
In view of a possible meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the president's maneuver is interpreted as a prevailing need to close ranks around him in matters as delicate as an agreement with his main antagonist.
According to sources close to Tillerson, the straw that broke the camel's back was his isolation from the possible agreement with Jong-un, a unilateral decision taken by the president while his main diplomat was still abroad.
"Tillerson had long expressed interest in a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with North Korea, and was upset about being left totally out of the loop when Trump decided to move forward," the Post said, quoting a government official.
As is often the case, the decision was made public through the president's personal Twitter account, and as reported by NBC and CNN, Tillerson would have learned of his dismissal through the platform.
This was confirmed by the State Department, when it issued a statement in which it explained that, “The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security. He will miss his colleagues at the Department of State and the foreign ministers he has worked with throughout the world. The Secretary did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes that public service is a noble calling.”
For his part, the president has considered the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mike Pompeo, for months as a possible collaborator due to his similar positions on international issues, as the Post's report continues, and has even been seen in a series of meetings "that do not necessarily deeply involve his agency, simply because Trump likes him", explained another source to the media.
"As director of the CIA, Mike has earned the praise of members of both parties by strengthening our intelligence gathering, modernizing our defensive and offensive capabilities, and building close ties with our friends and allies in the international intelligence community." said the president in his statement. "I've gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I'm confident he's the right person for the job at this critical juncture."
However, the constant remodeling of the presidential cabinet is perceived as instability within the White House, and is a sign of a president who demands blind allegiance when it comes to decisions.