Expected North Korea Meeting 'Has A Lot To Do With' Tillerson's Firing, Former Rep. Harman Says06:13
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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks on as he holds a joint press conference with Nigeria's Foreign Minister in Abuja, on March 12, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/AFP/Getty Images)MoreCloseclosemore
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks on as he holds a joint press conference with Nigeria's Foreign Minister in Abuja, on March 12, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/AFP/Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson is out as secretary of state, President Trump said Tuesday morning, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo will be nominated to replace him.

Jane Harman, director, president and CEO of the Wilson Center and a former U.S. representative who served on the House Intelligence Committee, says Tillerson is an "admirable man" who lacked a strong relationship with Trump.

"I think there are some accomplishments on [Tillerson's] watch," Harman tells Here & Now's Robin Young of his time at the State Department. "Having said that, no one ever claimed that the chemistry between him and our commander in chief was good — it just wasn't. They were very different people."

An expected meeting between the U.S. and North Korea likely factored into Trump's decision, Harman says.

"I think that Trump wants good chemistry by his side, and that's what this appointment is," she says. "I don't know that he particularly values the State Department and what it contributes. I think he values who Mike Pompeo is and what he contributes."

Interview Highlights

On Pompeo's time as CIA director, and his stance on Russian election meddling

"Pompeo has been CIA director for a year. He brings some skills to that post. He was No. 1 in his class at West Point, he has a Harvard Law degree, he played some role — whether I agree with him or not — in investigating the Benghazi events. But at any rate, at the CIA, the workforce is not political, and the truth shall set you free, is the mantra of the CIA, and they believe firmly that there was Russian involvement, our entire intelligence community does. So Pompeo was the leader of that, picked up that cause, and I think there's no question that that's what he believes. Trump doesn't stress that."

"I think he'll try to find a way forward that satisfies both his boss — that would be Trump — and his recent history. How he will do that will require some deftness."

Jane Harman, on CIA Director Mike Pompeo's view that Russia meddled in the 2016 election

On Tillerson's firing coming a day after the House Intelligence Committee ended its investigation into Russian election meddling, with some members breaking with the intelligence community's assessment of Russia

"That breaks my heart. I spent eight years on the House Intelligence Committee, four as the senior Democrat, the ranking member on the committee, the role that Adam Schiff now has. And although there were disagreements from time to time — some of them very serious — we patched them over and we functioned as a committee. I think the committee is now broken, certainly for the near term, the next cycle, or maybe certainly as long as Donald Trump continues as president. And what happened yesterday, to the surprise of the Democrats, was the Republicans fell in line with Donald Trump's view about the lack of Russian meddling.

"So I think where you're going with this is, what's Pompeo now gonna do, as Trump's appointee and loyal counselor? I think he'll have a difficult time breaking with the CIA view. I think he'll try to find a way forward that satisfies both his boss — that would be Trump — and his recent history. How he will do that will require some deftness."

On Gina Haspel, who oversaw the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, being named as Pompeo's replacement

"I think the [confirmation] hearings need to be careful. I lived this history, and I'm the one who then on the Intelligence Committee wrote a letter to the CIA general counsel, who had briefed me on the interrogation, asking him what policy guidance there was for the list of techniques that were used. I never got a substantive answer. My letter was classified — it's since been declassified, which is why I'm talking about it — but she was very involved in this. And I also urged them not to destroy videotapes, which I was told had been made, and they were destroyed, and she was part of that action. So I think she needs to be asked careful questions. Of course it's good news, and no surprise to me, that women are competent to head major intelligence agencies. But this part of her experience I hope will be carefully probed in her confirmation hearings."

This segment aired on March 13, 2018.

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