18 March 2018


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13 March 2018

The Republican coverup for Trump just got much worse & Republicans On House Intel Panel Conclude There Was No Collusion With Russia 13&12MAR18

THANK GOD for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators. We the people have no reason to doubt his investigations integrity no matter how nasty the partisan politics of the republicans on the House Intelligence Committee become. From the Washington Post and NPR.....
The Republican coverup for Trump just got much worse

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.
  Follow @theplumlinegs
House Republicans may have the power to prevent important facts about President Trump and Russia from coming to public light. But here’s what they don’t have the power to do: prevent important facts about their own conduct on Trump’s behalf from coming to public light.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have announced that they are shutting down their investigation into Russian efforts to sabotage our democracy and into Trump campaign collusion with those efforts. Shockingly, they have reached conclusions that are entirely vindicating for Trump: There was no “collusion,” and while Russia did try to interfere, it didn’t do so in order to help Trump.
In an interview with me this morning, Rep. Adam B. Schiff — the ranking Democrat on the Intel Committee — confirmed that Democrats will issue a minority report that will seek to rebut the GOP conclusions.
But here’s the real point to understand about this minority report: It will detail all the investigative avenues that House Republicans declined to take — the interviews that they didn’t conduct, and the leads that they didn’t try to chase down and verify. And Schiff confirmed that the report will include new facts — ones that have not been made public yet — that Republicans didn’t permit to influence their conclusions.
“There’s no way for them to reach the conclusions that they want to start with unless they ignore or mischaracterize what we’ve been able to learn,” Schiff said, adding that the minority report would also “set out the investigative steps that were never taken to answer further questions about the Russians and the Trump campaign’s conduct.”
Schiff had previously said the committee has discovered “ample evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Led by Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), however, committee Republicans will soon issue a report they claim will show there was no collusion and that Russia didn’t interfere to help Trump — putting House Republicans at odds with U.S. intelligence services and possibly with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who recently indicted 13 Russian nationals for an alleged plot to swing the election to Trump.
Schiff told me the minority report would set forth new facts not yet made public that will contradict the House GOP conclusions on both those fronts. He said he expected the GOP’s report to be “a far longer version of the Nunes memorandum that will omit key material facts and misrepresent others in order to tell the president’s political narrative.”
“We will be presenting evidence of collusion, some of which is in the public domain and apparent to everyone willing to see it, and other facts that have not yet come to public light,” Schiff told me. “I fully expect that the majority will omit many of these facts in its report and mischaracterize others.”
Schiff has said that committee Republicans have failed to sufficiently pressure key Trump associates — such as Donald Trump Jr., Hope Hicks, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Stephen K. Bannon — to answer questions raised by the committee’s investigation. Schiff added to me that the minority report would also detail what further investigative steps “need to be done” to discover the truth — steps that Republicans have declined to take.
The Nunes memo fiasco, redux?
Schiff also raised an interesting possibility: that the House Democrats’ minority report will actually be more in line with the bipartisan conclusions reached by the Senate Intelligence Committee (whose probe appears to be somewhat fairer) than the House GOP report will be.
“I suspect that we’ll be on a similar page to the analysis by the Senate,” Schiff told me. “House Republicans are likely to be out on a political lark.” If this comes to pass, then even some Republicans in the Senate will have reached conclusions that House Republicans declined to reach, though we don’t know yet what this might look like.
The House GOP decision to end the probe is being widely portrayed in the press (as always) as the result of partisan fightingSome news accounts have repeated with a straight face the idea that House Republicans are ending the investigation out of frustration with Democratic efforts to use the probe for political purposes. But there is a known and verifiable fact set here about House GOP conduct that renders the reality inescapably clear: One party wants to get to the full truth, and the other simply does not.
The Nunes memo fiasco — in which Nunes’s bad-faith efforts to discredit legitimate inquiry into the Trump/Russia scandal crashed and burned — demonstrated for all to see the true nature of the Republican effort to weaponize and pervert the oversight process to protect the president. Hopefully the Democrats’ minority report will illustrate this even more comprehensively, with a level of clarity that will punch through the usual both-sides media coverage.

Republicans On House Intel Panel Conclude There Was No Collusion With Russia

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET
House intelligence committee Republicans on Monday cleared President Trump's campaign of colluding with the Russians who attacked the 2016 U.S. election, concluding a probe that minority Democrats had long argued was focused on appeasing the White House.
The intelligence committee's findings do not end the Russia imbroglio — the Senate intelligence committee and Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller are continuing their work — but they provide a political shot in the arm for Trump. The president touted the findings on Twitter later Monday night.
Trump and his advisers have denied from the first they had any role in what intelligence officers call the "active measures" that Russia has been waging against the United States for years. The Republicans' initial report on Monday affirmed that those active measures have been taking place but said there was no evidence Trump played any role in them and, in a departure with the U.S. intelligence community, Republicans disputed that they were intended to help Trump win.
Republicans also highlighted what they call the real problems within the Russia matter, including what they say was the abuse of surveillance powers by national security officials and what they called "problematic contacts between senior intelligence community officials and the media."
House committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., was set to send the majority's draft of the report to Democrats on Tuesday for their review. Democrats are expected to dispute its conclusions as premature or partisan and raise what they call the roadblocks to a true investigation that Republicans put in place. Ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wanted to issue certain subpoenas or pursue other leads, for example, which he said the majority would not accommodate.
Ultimately, Monday's announcement by intelligence committee Republicans set the stage for the partisan outcome that has long appeared in store for the committee's Russia probe: a majority Republican report and a minority Democratic one that reach different conclusions.
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, another top Republican on the intelligence committee, told reporters that meetings and other contacts between people on the Trump campaign and Russians might have been ill-advised at the time but did not add up to an international conspiracy to throw the election.
"We found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment in taking meetings," he told The Associated Press and other news organizations. "But only Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn or someone else like that could take this series of inadvertent contacts with each other, or meetings or whatever, and weave that into sort of a fiction page turner, spy thriller."

ACLU Advice for parents and teachers regarding upcoming school walkouts 13MAR18

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ADVISE from the ACLU of Virginia on the National School Walkout to end gun violence, it is good advise and should be shared throughout the Commonwealth and nationwide. Makes me proud to be a sustaining member of the ACLU, have been for years.....
Across the nation, teens of from all backgrounds are uniting to make their views known about an issue that has affected them directly and deeply – gun violence in schools. Time and time again in our country's history, we have seen young people lead the way in times of crisis, and the first step in that is hearing what they have to say.
As part of their activism, students moved by the recent, tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida are planning mass school walkouts during school hours. This Wednesday, March 14 has been identified as National School Walkout Day, and other upcoming dates are being mentioned in news reports as well. Many school administrators, teachers and parents are struggling with how to deal with this issue.
In Virginia, we have encouraged school officials to treat this as an educational opportunity, rather than behavior that calls for discipline. On March 2, we sent a letter to all Virginia school superintendents that included some guidelines that we think should guide how schools respond.
Legally, school administrators have the power to discipline students for walking out of school. They can only do so, however, if they can demonstrate that the students' conduct materially and substantially disrupted the educational programs at the school or interfered with other students' rights. And, they can't punish a student more harshly for walking out in protest of something than another student whose absence is unexcused for a different reason. That would be unconstitutional.
From our perspective, however, the most important thing to consider is that the power to discipline need not be exercised at all if students, parents, teachers and school administrators can come together to define these student protests as educational activities that enhance student community and civic engagement.
For Parents:
Talk to your teen about whether they plan to participate in a walkout should one occur at their school, and review their school's student handbook and code of conduct with them. Suggest that they engage in self-study regarding free speech and civil disobedience. Henry David Thoreau's "On Civil Disobedience" might be a good place to start.
Ask your school principal how they would respond to a walkout. Suggest that they view this as a teachable moment grounded in the belief that peaceful protest over matters one cares about deeply is an act of courage and positive community engagement that should be admired and encouraged, not an act of defiance requiring punishment. And if they do intend to impose discipline on any students who walk out, ask them to ensure it is consistent with punishments handed out for other types of unexcused absences.
It is also important that the rights of students who choose not to walk out be protected, and that their educational experience is without significant disruption. Facilitating a walkout, should one occur, will reduce the potential for disruption and help protect everyone's rights. Lastly, administrators should understand that students have a right to express themselves through their clothing and other means even while on school grounds during school hours.
For Teachers:
Many teachers have asked us whether they have a right to join their students in a walkout protest during school hours. The simple answer is no, but we would defer to guidance being offered by the National Education Association (NEA). In addition, we encourage you to talk with your fellow teachers and administrators about how their actions will leave a lasting impression on the young people in their care.
Additionally, we have resources available on this matter. Please forward this email to anyone who might be interested or affected by this issue. If any students you know who walk out receive a punishment that seems disproportionate or overly severe, encourage them to submit an intake for our Legal Team to review.
Very truly yours,
Claire G. Gastanaga
Claire signature
Claire G. Gastanaga
Executive Director
ACLU of Virginia
Defend liberty, equality & justice. Become a member »

PA-18: Rick Saccone (R) Has Election Eve Meltdown, "Liberals Hate God, Trump, and U.S." & In Totally Unhinged Speech Trump Slobbers Over Foreign Despots While Attacking America's Free Press 13&11MAR18

Related image CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

NOT only has the national republican party spent millions on rick saccone's rf PA campaign to hold on to the 18th cong district, the nra has donated also, and saccone has accepted their blood money. And he has the gall to accuse Liberals and Democrats in the 18th cong district of hating our country, God and the president. How can anyone who accepts campaign donations from the nra accuse their opposition of not loving our country? AND GOD? Politically I am a Christian Socialist and I do not hate God. rick saccone accuses Liberals and Democrats of hating God, and in doing so breaks the commandment Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor. saccone's accusation about hating the president? I do not hate NOT MY pres drumpf/trump, NOT MY vp pence and their corrupt administration, I loathe them, but I do not hate them. These 2 articles show just how much saccone is drumpf/trump-pence and visa-versa. From DailyKos.....
PA-18: Rick Saccone (R) Has Election Eve Meltdown, "Liberals Hate God, Trump, and U.S."
Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone, the Republican candidate in the special election for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, reportedly accused the Democratic party of being galvanized by "hatred for our country" and "hatred for God," during a rally in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania on Monday.
Saccone, who was endorsed by and campaigned with President Donald Trump on Saturday, continued the campaign trail with Donald Trump Jr. on the eve of the election.
"They say the other side is energized," Saccone reportedly said. "Let me tell you, they're energized for hate for our president. They have a hatred for our president."
Saccone then suggested that liberals founded their ideals on the basis of hating religion and the US.
"I've talked to so many of these on the left," Saccone said. "And they have a hatred for our president. I tell you, many of them have a hatred for our country."
"I'll tell you some more — my wife and I saw it again today, they have a hatred for God," Saccone continued.
Of course, he’s having a meltdown because he’s losing to Conor Lamb (D. PA-18). Plus, Trump may not be enough for him to win:
The visits were part of a desperate, multi-million dollar Hail Mary by the national Republican Party to avoid another embarrassing loss ahead of this fall’s midterms. The race should be Saccone’s for the taking. The 18th district is a region of shuttered coal mines and steel mills that went for Trump by nearly 20 points in the 2016 presidential election. But Saccone, a 60-year-old Christian conservative who once dubbed himself “Trump before Trump was Trump,” is trailing his opponent, moderate Democrat Conor Lamb, by six points a day ahead of the vote, according to a Monmouth University poll released Monday. According to Politico, Republicans have spent $8 million on television ads alone in the state, twice as much as the Democrats have.
“They’re trying to stave off what the Democrats see as momentum,” Republican strategist Doug Heye says of the Republican push for Saccone. “We tend to over-inflate the meaning of special elections. But in this case, we’ve seen more than twice as many House Republican retirements as Democrats, and we’re hearing lots of concern that if we lose this seat as well, we could see six or seven members pull the plug in the next week.”
Meanwhile, the national media has descended upon the coal towns outside Pittsburgh to cover the election. And the locals — the retired and laid-off miners and steelworkers who have a steep personal investment in the outcome of this race — find themselves annoyed by all the noise.
“This is supposed to be about a congressional race here—what’s important is food stamps, Family and Medical Leave—and it’s all Trump, Trump, Trump!” says Tony Ross, an unemployed steel worker who ventured to the candy shop to see what the commotion was about. He identifies politically as an independent. “It’s like, two scoops of ice cream for Trump, one scoop for the candidate. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? $11 million dollars, and it’s all about Trump!”
This resentment is shared by Republican political operatives. Last week, Politico cited more than 20 party officials and strategists who bemoaned Saccone’s failings as a candidate. Lamb has raised nearly $4 million dollars; Saccone can boast just one-fifth of that, and has relied heavily on Republican outside groups to bankroll much of his campaign.
“This is supposed to be about a congressional race here—what’s important is food stamps, Family and Medical Leave—and it’s all Trump, Trump, Trump!” says Tony Ross, an unemployed steel worker who ventured to the candy shop to see what the commotion was about. He identifies politically as an independent. “It’s like, two scoops of ice cream for Trump, one scoop for the candidate. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? $11 million dollars, and it’s all about Trump!”
This resentment is shared by Republican political operatives. Last week, Politico cited more than 20 party officials and strategists who bemoaned Saccone’s failings as a candidate. Lamb has raised nearly $4 million dollars; Saccone can boast just one-fifth of that, and has relied heavily on Republican outside groups to bankroll much of his campaign.
But if Trump can't help, who knows if the NRA's last-minute attempt will save Saccone:
The National Rifle Association has engaged in an under-the-radar spending campaign for Republican candidate Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s Tuesday special election.
It is the only federal political spending the pro-gun group has reported since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., according to FEC reports.
The NRA spent $7,868 in support of Saccone but the money wasn’t seen in a high-profile venture like TV ads or get-out-the-vote efforts. Most of it - $7,532 - was spent on mailings scheduled to be distributed in the district on Monday. The remaining $336 was spent on phone banking earlier this month, according to campaign finance filings.
The group confirmed the existence of the mailer to ABC News but declined to describe it or where it was sent in the 18th Congressional District. The NRA has endorsed Saccone, who has an A+ rating from the group, and has donated $2,450 to his campaign.

In Totally Unhinged Speech Trump Slobbers Over Foreign Despots While Attacking America's Free Press

Trump turns rally for Rick Saccone into a rally against media

 The President of the United States left Washington, D.C. this Saturday, but didn't head south to his luxury Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach as usual. Instead Donald Trump went up to Pennsylvania to deliver a campaign speech on behalf of Rick Saccone, who is at risk of losing to Democrat Conner Lamb next Tuesday in a district that Trump won by twenty points. The rally was reminiscent of Trump's aimless campaign speeches in 2016 where he pontificated like a mad evangelist for an hour or more.
In keeping with his practice of shrieking sermonizing, Trump made a point of attacking what he considers the the scourge of his existence: the media (video below). He rattled off the sort of derogatory slander that would ordinarily be reserved for bitter enemies of all that is righteous. It was a storm of damnation, both personal and broadly general.
For instance, Trump lashed out at NBC's Meet the Press calling it "A show now headed by sleepy eyes Chuck Todd. He's a sleeping son of a bitch, I'll tell ya." Remember, this speech was at a daytime rally with children present. He also went after an unnamed "certain anchor on CNN" who he said was "fake as hell, CNN. The worst. So fake. Fake news." And he wasn't letting NBC off either. He ranted that they were "perhaps worse than CNN, I have to tell you. And MSNBC is horrible." Continuing down that path of raw animosity he called MSNBC "third rate. And NBC, which is horrible. Their newscast, by the way is not doing well. On NBC network. They're heading down the tubes."
This might be a good time to inject some facts into the discussion. NBC's newscast anchored by Lester Holt has won ten consecutive quarters in the key advertising demographic of 25-54 year olds. They were also number one in the most recent sweeps period of February 2018. And their morning news program, the Today Show, topped their competition (ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning) in both the demo and total viewers. As for MSNBC, Rachel Maddow has been beating Trump's BFF Sean Hannity on a regular basis.
But Trump wasn't about to let mere reality interfere with his delusions. He went on to make a ludicrous and utterly nonsensical prediction about the media that he despises so, and which he is convinced hates him. Pointing to the press at the rally he said...
"Six months prior to the election, every one of those guys - 'We really endorse Donald Trump. We think he has to win.' You know why? Because if I don't win the election their ratings are gonna go so far down they're gonna be out of business, every one of them."
WTF is he trying to say here? That the media that he accuses of trying to destroy him will suddenly reason that it's in their interest to support him? If that's true, then why wouldn't they support him now for the same reasons? What's more, he's implying that the media's surging ratings are the result of having him around to attack. Which means that more viewers are watching because they enjoy seeing him get hammered. That's actually true. Every poll shows that Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president ever recorded. So people probably are happy to see him get cut down by responsible journalists whose reporting of Trump's failures is just part their job.
The tone that Trump sets in these rallies is decidedly hostile and un-American. He praises China's Xi Jinping, who just maneuvered himself into being president for life (of which Trump is envious). He declares that he blindly trusts Kim Jong Un's promise to refrain from missile and nuclear testing. He protects Vladimir Putin's Russia from sanctions mandated by Congress as punishment for their election tampering. Trump speaks of these and other anti-democratic tyrants in radiantly glowing terms. But he viciously insults fellow Americans who practice their Constitutionally protected right to freedom of the press. And he thinks that's how to MAGA - or KAG, as he now says (Keep America Gross).

Trump Replacing Secretary Of State Tillerson With CIA Director Mike Pompeo 13MAR18

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BYE BYE REX, BYE BYE! Anyone who thinks the drumpf/trump-pence administration firing rex tillerson as Sec of State is bad for America really is naive. drumpf/trump-pence appointed tillerson as a tool to enrich the oligarchs who control the drumpf/trump-pence administration and tillerson was working to do that, just not fast enough. mike pompeo is not qualified to be Sec of State but he is an experienced ass kisser and that is what drumpf/trump-pence wants. From NPR & the Washington Post.....

Trump Replacing Secretary Of State Tillerson With CIA Director Mike Pompeo

Updated at 9:31 a.m. ET
President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday morning in a tweet that followed a year of frequent tension between the two leaders.
Trump said he is nominating CIA director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson's replacement, which requires confirmation by the Senate.
"Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time ... we got along quite well but we disagreed on things," Trump told reporters at the White House. "We were not really thinking the same ... with Mike, we have a very similar thought process."
Trump and Tillerson are described as talking often, though Trump has frequently appeared to catch the top diplomat off guard on major foreign policy decisions.
A White House official says the president wanted to have a new team in place in advance of upcoming talks with North Korea and ongoing trade negotiations.
Tillerson, who was traveling in Africa last week, was caught flat footed when the surprise announcement came that Trump had accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Just a day earlier, he'd told reporters that negotiations were a long way off.
Trump has tapped Gina Haspel, Pompeo's former deputy and a CIA veteran, to take the helm of the spy agency.
Haspel did not require Senate confirmation to serve in her deputy role but will to serve as the full-fledged director of the agency. Her hearing could exhume many CIA demons about the torture of terror suspects and the secret detention program that followed the 2001 terror attack.
Tillerson, the former boss of petrogiant ExxonMobil, didn't know Trump before 2016 — and their relationship seemed to eventually break after months of disputes over policy, embarrassing leaks and a few public humiliations by the president himself.
White House officials on Nov. 30 cranked up the pressure on Tillerson with an apparent targeted leak to The New York Times. It revealed the existence of a secret plan by chief of staff John Kelly to force out Tillerson and replace him with Pompeo.
Trump would then nominate Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to replace Pompeo, according to the Times. As it happened, Cotton is not getting the nomination to lead the CIA, after all.
The report took care to say that the plan was "tentative" and Trump hadn't yet approved it, but the message to the State Department's headquarters in Foggy Bottom in Washington, D.C., was clear: the White House was finished with Tillerson and wanted him out.
That story followed other evidence that the relationship between the president and the nation's top diplomat was barely functional.
Tillerson said he would not resign in October after an NBC News report said Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" in July after a tense meeting at the Pentagon. Tillerson declined to deny it publicly, and Trump retorted to Forbes magazine that he was ready to compare "I.Q." tests — "and I can tell you who's going to win."
Trump also undermined Tillerson's efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the situation in North Korea. As Tillerson kept up support for talks with Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Trump said on Twitter Oct. 1 that Tillerson was "wasting his time."
"Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!" Trump wrote.
It was about five months later that Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Tillerson had also distanced himself from what critics have called Trump's equivocation between neo-Nazis and counter-protesters, who clashed over a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, Va.
Tillerson appeared Aug. 27 on Fox News Sunday and was asked by host Chris Wallace about the way the international community views the United States following Trump's controversial comments about the protesters and counter-protesters in the wake of deadly violence in Charlottesville.
"We express America's values from the State Department," Tillerson said. And later: "The president speaks for himself, Chris."
Tillerson's departure makes him the latest member of Trump's inner circle in the administration to step down roughly ten months into Trump's term — following a series of White House aides, starting with national security adviser Mike Flynn, continuing on to chief strategist Steve Bannon, press secretary Sean Spicer and chief of staff Reince Priebus — who have left their posts amid administration turbulence.
Tillerson is the second Cabinet official to resign, following former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was ousted over a travel expense scandal. Tillerson leaves behind a State Department that critics have called a shadow of its former self because of Tillerson's disconnection from the department and the White House's antipathy toward appointing or keeping top talent in the nation's diplomatic ranks.
Some ambassadorships around the world and other top jobs at the department's Foggy Bottom headquarters remained vacant.
And speculation has swirled for so long that Tillerson might quit that this isn't the first wave of discussion about prospective replacements. A previous go-round centered on Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and former governor of South Carolina. The New York Times reported there was tentative talk that President Trump might appoint his daughter, Ivanka, as Haley's replacement at the U.N.
For now, Haley remains in her post in New York and the Ivanka narrative appears to have cooled.
Tillerson's tenure as America's top diplomat was unlikely. Trump interviewed other, more conventional candidates, including 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but he ultimately gave the nod to the Texas oilman Tillerson based on a recommendation from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Tillerson told interviewers early on that he hadn't been looking for the job and was "stunned" to get Trump's offer — but his wife, Renda St. Clair, sold him.
"'I told you God's not through with you,' " as Tillerson recounted his wife's remarks.
Tillerson had no governmental experience; he went to work in 1975 for Exxon Co., as it was then known, as an oil production engineer. But, having risen to become CEO of the descendant ExxonMobil, he effectively served as a kind of head of state of his own — not only running the energy behemoth, but also conducting its foreign policy across the globe in all the places it drilled or refined or conducted other operations.
That work brought Tillerson into contact with all manner of leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, who awarded him Russia's Order of Friendship in 2008. Trump and Tillerson met with Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Germany in June, and then Tillerson continued follow-up negotiations with Russia until his departure from office.
As secretary of state, Tillerson belonged to a cadre of leaders who sometimes preceded Trump on international travel to assuage allies' concerns about him. Or they returned after his visits to try to smooth things over.
Tillerson, Vice President Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis and others emphasized conventional points about American commitment to allies, to international norms and other longstanding points — often after Trump appeared willing to flout them.
At the same time, Tillerson stayed in lockstep with the president on many matters of policy. He defended to the State Department press corps, for example, the realism that he said underpinned the administration's new strategy focused on Afghanistan, which amounted to the new goal of playing to a draw.
"I think the president was clear this entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Taliban to have the Taliban understand: You will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you," he said.
At the same time, however, the new Afghanistan strategy will remain one of Tillerson's most significant elements of unfinished business. It depended upon a broad new diplomatic campaign across South Asia involving pressure on India and Pakistan to help with a good outcome in Afghanistan — even though, at the time, the United States did not have active ambassadors in India or Afghanistan.
President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him as the nation’s top diplomat, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate outreach such as possible talks with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday.
Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled diplomat cut short a trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.
Tension between Trump and Tillerson has simmered for many months, but the president and his top diplomat reached a breaking point over the past week, officials said.
The reason for the latest rift was unclear, but Trump and Tillerson have often appeared at odds over policies such as the nuclear deal with Iran and the tone of U.S. diplomacy. A spokesman for Tillerson said the secretary of state “had every intention of staying” in his job and was “unaware of the reason” for his firing.
Tillerson cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington. “I felt like, look, I just need to get back,” he told reporters aboard his plane home. The White House, however, had told him the previous Friday he would be dismissed, according to two administration officials. The news was not conveyed in person by Trump.
At the White House on Tuesday, Trump said the move had been considered for “a long time.”
“We disagreed on things ... the Iran deal,” Trump told reporters. “So we were not thinking the same. With Mike Pompeo, we have a similar thought process.”
Trump selected Gina Haspel — the deputy director at the CIA — to succeed Pompeo at the CIA. She would become the first woman to run the spy agency.
Both would need to be confirmed by the Senate at a time when the closely divided chamber has stalled on confirming dozens of Trump nominees.
In a statement issued to The Washington Post, Trump praised both Pompeo and Haspel.
“I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State,” Trump said. “Mike graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.”
CIA Director Mike Pompeo during a security summit in Washington on Oct. 19, 2017. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
The president continued, “Gina Haspel, the Deputy Director of the CIA, will be nominated to replace Director Pompeo and she will be the CIA’s first-ever female director, a historic milestone. Mike and Gina have worked together for more than a year, and have developed a great mutual respect.”
Trump also had words of praise for Tillerson: “Finally, I want to thank Rex Tillerson for his service. A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well.”
A spokesman for Tillerson said the secretary of state has not spoken directly with Trump about the move.
“The secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security and other areas,” Steve Goldstein, undersecretary of public diplomacy for the State Department, said in a statement.
“He will miss his colleagues greatly at the Department of State, and the foreign ministers he’s worked with throughout the world,” Goldstein continued. “The secretary did not speak to the president, and is unaware of the reason. He is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and believes strongly that public service is a noble calling.”
The president — who has long clashed with Tillerson, who he believes is “too establishment” in his thinking — felt it was important to make the change now, as he prepares for possible high-stakes talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as upcoming trade negotiations, three White House officials said.
“I am deeply grateful to President Trump for permitting me to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for this opportunity to serve as Secretary of State,” Pompeo said in a statement. “His leadership has made America safer and I look forward to representing him and the American people to the rest of the world to further America’s prosperity. Serving alongside the great men and women of the CIA, the most dedicated and talented public servants I have encountered, has been one of the great honors of my life.”
Haspel in a statement also said she was excited for her promotion.
“After 30 years as an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, it has been my honor to serve as its Deputy Director alongside Mike Pompeo for the past year,” she said. “I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
On the flight from Nigeria, Tillerson appeared to break with the White House in his assessment of the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain. He singled out Russia as responsible for the attack, echoing the finger-pointing of the British government.
“It came from Russia,” Tillerson said, according to the Associated Press. “I cannot understand why anyone would take such an action. But this is a substance that is known to us and does not exist widely.”
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders condemned the attack as “reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible,” and expressed solidarity with Britain, but would not say whether the United States believes Russia was behind it.
Tillerson was especially frustrated when Trump last Thursday unilaterally agreed to the meeting with Kim while Tillerson was traveling abroad in Africa, according to officials familiar with his thinking.
Tillerson had long expressed interest in a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with North Korea, and was upset to have been left totally out of the loop when Trump decided to move forward, according to a White House official.
Foggy Bottom was also acutely aware — and chagrined — that when Pompeo appeared on the television shows this past Sunday to explain the North Korea developments, he did not mention Tillerson.
Pompeo long has been mentioned as Tillerson’s most likely replacement. The former Republican lawmaker from Kansas developed a warm relationship with Trump as the CIA director, often delivering the President’s Daily Brief to Trump in person, and racing over to the West Wing at a moment’s notice to field the president’s queries on a range of topics.
Last November, the White House readied a plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo, and Trump seriously considered making the move, but was convinced to keep the current team in place.
Pompeo often is found in a host of meetings that do not necessarily deeply involve his agency, simply because Trump likes him, said one White House official.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was initially mentioned as a replacement for Pompeo, but Trump opted to promote from within by elevating Haspel.
Tillerson’s exit had been so widely expected that the rumors were given a nickname: Rexit. Speculation about his ouster has come in waves, including inOctober after NBC News reported that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron.”
Tillerson, 65, spent his career at ExxonMobil, climbing the ranks at the oil giant to become chief executive officer, where he cut deals across the Middle East and in Mexico. Having never worked in government before being named secretary of state, he struggled to adapt to Washington’s ways and the administration’s culture of backstabbing.
Tillerson emerged as one of the strongest voices in the administration critical of Russia. For months, he has been saying Russia clearly meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, even as Trump shied away from any critical remarks.
Trump seemed to resent pressure to stay the course on such issues as China’s trade practices, the war in Afghanistan and the Iran nuclear deal, those people said.
Tillerson pushed Trump to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, at least for now, with a July pronouncement that Iran was meeting its end of the bargain. Trump said in a Wall Street Journal interview that he regretted making that determination and strongly suggested he would not go along with another such certification of compliance due in October.
Although Tillerson supported the approach to the war in Afghanistan that Trump announced last week, he felt no need to frame U.S. goals in the same maximal terms as the commander in chief. Where Trump proclaimed on Aug. 21 that “our troops will fight to win,” Tillerson laid out a much more modest agenda.
Josh Dawsey, John Hudson and Carol Morello contributed to this report.
Ashley Parker is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2017, after 11 years at the New York Times, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns and Congress, among other things.
  Follow @ashleyrparker
Philip Rucker is the White House bureau chief for The Washington Post. He previously has covered Congress, the Obama White House, and the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns. He joined The Post in 2005 as a local news reporter.
  Follow @PhilipRucker