Trump's firing of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state came after months of clashes

Tillerson warned his job was in jeopardy

Last Updated Mar 13, 2018 6:56 PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- President Trump was not at all pleased with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- so he fired him. Mr. Trump announced Tuesday he has chosen CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him and picked Pompeo's deputy, Gina Haspel, to succeed him.

It's by far the biggest Trump administration shakeup yet. A shaken Tillerson relinquished control of the State Department.

"I received a call today from the president of the United States a little after noontime from Air Force One," Tillerson said.

He had been warned in an early Saturday morning phone call from White House chief of staff John Kelly that his job was in jeopardy.

Tillerson -- who had been traveling in Africa -- cut short his trip.

Hours after landing in Washington, Tillerson learned Tuesday he'd been fired and would be replaced by Pompeo.

Mr. Trump, who often says he likes different points of view, said he fired America's top diplomat because they disagreed on foreign policy.

"I actually got along well with Rex, but really it was a different mindset, it was a different thinking," Mr. Trump said.

The president said they clashed over the Iran nuclear deal. He wants to tear up the international agreement while Tillerson cautioned that breaking America's commitment could make it harder to reach a deal with North Korea.

On Sunday's "Face the Nation," Pompeo skirted questions about whether Tillerson would lead those talks.

"This is a level of discussion, the president is going to drive this effort, this negotiation, but it will take a team to build out the picture," Pompeo said.

Timeline of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State

The president also had rejected Tillerson's advice to stick with U.S. commitments to the Paris climate change accord and an Asia-Pacific free trade deal. He also overruled Tillerson and instead took Jared Kushner's advice to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem this year.

Tillerson told "60 Minutes" last month that he had no plans to resign and dismissed reports -- but did not deny -- that he called Mr. Trump a "moron" in a private meeting.

"I'm not going to dignify the question," Tillerson said when pressed on the issue. "We've got so many bigger issues that we could be talking about."

It was Tillerson's experience as the globetrotting CEO of energy giant Exxon Mobil that originally convinced Mr. Trump to appoint him. Now he plans to retire back to his ranch in Texas.

"I'll now return to private life as a private citizen, as a proud American, proud of the opportunity I've had to serve my country," he said.

It's not clear when Pompeo will begin in his new role. One of his first major decisions will be whether to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal in May.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Margaret Brennan is moderator of CBS News' "Face The Nation" and CBS News' senior foreign affairs correspondent based in Washington, D.C.