Trump is planning to put America’s spy chief in charge of diplomacy

Coming out of the shadows.
Coming out of the shadows.
Image: Reuters/Carlos Barria
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Donald Trump is preparing to replace US secretary of state Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo, current head of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to media reports.

Pompeo, a former US representative from Kansas and Army cavalry officer, could become the US’s top diplomat within weeks, several outlets reported quoting unnamed officials.

Trump’s relationship with Tillerson has grown strained as his tenure at the State Department has progressed. The ex-Exxon Mobil chief has been at odds with the White House on key topics, including Iran, Russia, and North Korea. Tillerson also reportedly called the president “a moron” behind his back.

Trump may have a better rapport with Pompeo, whose background he reportedly admires. Pompeo graduated first in his West Point class and started his own aerospace business. He is also a stalwart conservative who shares Trump’s views on immigration.

It’s unclear, however, how his experience at his current job would transfer to the new post. “The qualities you need at the CIA and the State Department are very different,” said Adam Garfinkle, the editor of The American Interest magazine and a former speechwriter for US secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. “The CIA’s modus operandi is to maximize secrecy, the State Department’s is to maximize publicity.”

Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, would replace Pompeo at the CIA, according to the plan.

This story has been updated with context from Adam Garfinkle.

Heather Timmons contributed to this article.