While Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was apparently recovering from food poisoning in Africa, CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel attended the White House briefing by top South Korean officials, when President Trumpwith North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. According a source with knowledge of the situation and a White House official.
Her participation -- and Tillerson's absence -- came shortly before Tuesday's announcement of Mr. Trump's decision toand replace him with Pompeo. Haspel is taking the reins from Pompeo at the CIA. The president, in a statement, called Pompeo "the right person for the job at this critical juncture."
Mr. Trump's move to replace Tillerson is viewed positively by those inside and out of the White House that he is seriously preparing for talks with North Korea. Pompeo has worked closely with South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS). In May of 2017, Pompeo and his wife made a surprise visit to Seoul to meet with the head of South Korea's NIS. Tillerson, meanwhile, has consistently found himself out of sync with the President, both publicly and privately, regarding the denuclearization of North Korea.
On his way home from his Africa trip, Tillerson surmised that he might not be the person involved in prepping the president for his meeting with the North Korean dictator.
"I have a lot of confidence in my ability to create the conditions for successful negotiations between two very disparate parties. But I'm not the only guy working on this. Others are working on this as well," Tillerson told reporters.
Pompeo himself was more specific when asked on "Face the Nation" Sunday if he would be involved in diplomatic efforts between the Trump and Kim Jong Un, saying that he had been doing his research on the matter.
"I will leave how these discussions proceed to the president of the United States," Pompeo told "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan. "He will set the course and tone for the direction. But I had a chance this weekend to read the histories, the CIA's histories of our involvement in the previous failed negotiations. You can be sure that say I won't make those mistakes again. We will be at the center of providing the intelligence picture to the president and to the secretary of state, so that each of them can understand how it is we can most likely achieve the president's objective."
Editor's note: The earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that CIA Director Mike Pompeo attended the briefing with the South Koreans last Thursday, when President Donald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un. The CIA says that this was not correct -- Pompeo was traveling at the time. Also, CBS News' Margaret Brennanthat journalists traveling with Tillerson in Africa were falsely told his public events would be canceled.The story has been corrected.