Outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff submitted their resignations shortly after the announcement that Tillerson was let go from the department.
Chief of staff Margaret Peterlin and deputy chief of staff Christine Ciccone’s resignations were revealed the day after President Donald Trump announced that he would replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, according to Politico. The two submitted their resignations the same day that Tillerson was fired. Their final day with the department will coincide with Tillerson’s final day in order to help facilitate the transition.
“I’ve worked with Mike Pompeo now for quite some time. Tremendous energy. Tremendous intellect. We’re always on the same wavelength. The relationship has been very good, and that’s what I need as secretary of state. I wish Rex Tillerson well,” Trump told reporters from the White House lawn on Tuesday morning. The President acknowledged clashing with Tillerson on several policy positions and indicated there may be more cabinet changes to come. Specifically, Trump cited the Iran nuclear deal as a significant point of disagreement between the two men.
Tillerson’s Director for Policy Planning Brian Hook was named Wednesday morning to lead a delegation to Vienna on Friday for a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Joint Commission, in charge of implementing the Iran nuclear deal. According to the State Department, the meeting will include “all the members of the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union, and Iran.”
Undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs Steve Goldstein was promptly fired after putting out a statement that contradicted the Trump administration’s depiction of Tillerson’s firing. Goldstein stated that Tillerson was “unaware of the reason” for his firing and only learned of it through Trump’s Tuesday morning tweet.
Tillerson failed to thank Trump in a farewell State Department address on Tuesday. He made clear his desire for a smooth transition named Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan to take up his duties in the interim.
Pompeo, although named as Tillerson’s successor, faces tough confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, which has been slow to process the president’s appointments. The White House and President have repeatedly criticized Democrats’ obstruction when it comes to confirming the President’s nominees.
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