Tillerson to step down by March end

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to the media at the U.S. State Department after being fired by President Donald Trump in Washington

"When you look at the Iran deal, I think it's terrible". If your grandfather fought with Kim Il Sung against the Japanese, you're probably a member of the ruling class. It's possible to improve your status, though extremely difficult and rare. But the press secretary also conceded that a separate made-up Trump story - about Japanese automakers using bowling balls as a form of quality control, was a joke. All the more so when Trump has failed to develop any coherent policy toward Iranian advances in Syria and Lebanon. He consistently confirmed the intelligence assessments of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections, infuriating Trump.

Now, Trump "wants to put 'the congressman from Koch' in charge of the State Department and, by extension, the engagement of the United States government with a world in which the brothers Koch have many, many interests". But over time, Tillerson found himself frozen out and in disagreement with the man who mattered most, Trump. "There is too much at stake to entrust these roles to anyone who treats human rights as callously as both Pompeo and Haspel have in the past". "Since this was not the case, it was time for Tillerson to go", he said. "Several on the team [were] profoundly affected", one agency employee wrote, ". some to the point of tears and choking up". Instead, Tillerson's North Korea strategy seemed to be to beg Pyongyang for talks.

The muck infested ponds that feature the latest round of appointments sees Mike Pompeo move from his gun slinging role at the Central Intelligence Agency to the position of Secretary of State. His tax cuts are at the centre of US economic policy.

In hindsight, it is ironic that Tillerson's nomination as the U.S. chief diplomat was initially greeted with suspicion.

"One of the suspects was subjected to the waterboard 83 times", he says, "and the other suspect - according to the public reports - was subjected to the waterboard three times". For all of Tillerson's bureaucratic stumbles, some of the president's most bitter adversaries credited the ex-oilman with acting as an adult and serving with dignity even as Trump publicly humiliated him.

Haspel defenders say she was only following orders when drafting a cable ordering the destruction of the videotapes of the interrogations and that another official sent it without consulting her.

"Now, with the benefit of time, I think the country would be well-served by a reasoned, non-emotional discussion about whether any kind of interrogation technique, beyond a standard Q&A, is ever justifiable - or effective, for that matter", Rizzo told NPR's Morning Edition. However, in response to written questions from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he said he would review the ban on waterboarding if the ban was shown to impede the collection of "vital intelligence".

In comments shortly after the announcement, Trump specifically pointed to the Iran nuclear deal as a factor in Tillerson's ouster.

Indeed, Trump appears prepared to reinstate sanctions on Iran, in violation of that agreement, on May 12 - just around the time he is expecting to sit down with Kim to forge a similar agreement with North Korea.

It takes much to make a figure like Rex Tillerson seem not merely sane but competent. By the time he left, Tillerson still hadn't filled seven of the top nine positions at the department.

► Subpoena power: Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenas the Trump Organization for information about its Russian business dealings - crossing what Trump once described as a "red line" that would exceed the independent prosecutor's authority.

Paul said he is opposing Haspel, the CIA's current deputy director, because she participated in the agency's torture program under former president George W. Bush. "Trump can't attract good people to work for him, perhaps more important, can't even hold onto the mediocre ones he's got". In that, he may be correct. In early 2017, he was able to convince the Trump administration to remove Iraq from the travel ban list in return for Iraq agreeing to open diplomatic conversation with the Saudis.

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