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Rex Tillerson, departing Secretary of State, defends his record following firing

Posted: 2:07 PM, Mar 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-13 18:28:08Z

Just hours after he was fired by President Donald Trump, outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended his achievements as secretary of state and told reporters he is delegating all his authorities at the end of Tuesday. He said his tenure will officially end on March 31.

Tillerson said he spoke on the phone with President Donald Trump "a little after noon time" on Tuesday, hours after the President tweeted that he was replacing the former oil tycoon with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Speaking from the agency's briefing room Tuesday, Tillerson said his priority is to ensure a smooth transition.

Trump announced earlier that he had fired Tillerson, replacing his top diplomat ahead of a potential high-stakes sitdown between the President and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Tillerson's departure follows months of tension between him and Trump.

The President plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to succeed Tillerson, and picked Gina Haspel, the current CIA deputy director, to take over from Pompeo.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he respected Tillerson's "intellect" and said he "got along well with Rex."

"I think Rex will be much happier now," Trump said.