Told Tillerson of Trump’s firing decision beforehand: White House

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Washington, March 15 (IANS) The White House “did” inform Rex Tillerson about US President Donald Trump’s decision to sack him as Secretary of State beforehand, a top official has said.

White House Spokesperson Raj Shah said Tillerson was informed earlier on last Friday. US Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein, however, had said on Tuesday that Tillerson “is unaware of the reason” for him being dismissed.

“I wouldn’t speculate on what Tillerson’s perspective was but I would just say he was informed of the president’s decision on Friday,” said Shah on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Republican senator Rand Paul said on Wednesday that he would oppose Trump’s nomination of Jina Haspel to replace Mike Pompeo, the current CIA chief, accusing her of having shown “joyful glee” during the torture of terrorism suspects.

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“To really appoint the head cheerleader for waterboarding to be head of the CIA?” Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I mean, how could you trust somebody who did that to be in charge of the CIA? To read of her glee during the waterboarding is just absolutely appalling.”

Paul also announced to try to block the nomination of Pompeo to succeed Tillerson.

Shah responded by saying that Pompeo, Trump’s new pick for Tillerson’s job, will “make a fabulous secretary of state. He’ll receive broad bipartisan support.”

Pompeo’s deputy and successor Jina Haspel reportedly has played a direct role in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition program,” under which captured militants were handed to foreign governments and held at secret facilities, where they were tortured by agency personnel.

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Asked about Haspel’s controversial history, Shah only said “her background will be evaluated like all people’s backgrounds are during the confirmation process.”

Trump on Tuesday announced Pompeo to replace Tillerson, and Haspel would lead the CIA team in the future.

–IANS

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