Trump asks Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to step down from his position in the State Department. A spokesperson for Tillerson said that he “had every intention of staying” in the job, and “did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason” behind Trump’s request. This news comes a day after Tillerson stated he had “full confidence in the UK’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible” for the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. Current CIA Director Mike Pompeo will reportedly serve as Tillerson’s replacement.
Rex Tillerson served as the CEO of Exxon Mobil for 10 years before being selected as Secretary of State by President Donald Trump. During his tenure at Exxon, Tillerson developed extensive personal and business ties to individuals within the Russian government, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has bestowed upon Tillerson multiple awards, including the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors given to foreign citizens. Tillerson is also personal friends with Igor Sechin, the chairman of the oil giant Rosneft who is considered Putin’s “right-hand man.” He partnered with Sechin on a $500-billion energy deal that was ultimately halted in 2014 when Sechin came under U.S. sanctions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As the CEO of Exxon, Tillerson strongly opposed and lobbied against the 2014 sanctions. On March 13, 2018, Trump asked Tillerson to step down from his position in the State Department.