Statement on the Firing of Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson

GLEN MILLS -- Congressional Candidate Shelly Chauncey made the following statement on the President’s unprecedented decision to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with Mike Pompeo, Director of CIA:

“Once again, this President has demonstrated gross incompetence by firing one of the few moderating voices left in his administration. Tillerson, while not the most effective Secretary of State, served as one of the few checks on this President’s lack of diplomatic responsibility.

We are in a state of international crisis. Our military has been engaged in armed conflict for more than seventeen years; the Russian government has successfully infiltrated and influenced our elections; North Korea and Iran are continuing to increase their nuclear capabilities; our international agreements have become shredded pieces of paper; and citizens of European allies are being targeted for cooperating with our adversaries. Never in the history of this country has our foreign diplomacy been in such disarray, yet this President seems intent on surrounding himself with yes men rather than developing sound foreign policy that will aid and protect our economic interests and national security.

One of the most vital responsibilities of the Secretary of State is developing and maintaining diplomatic relations to allow for communication on international problems as an alternative to direct military engagement. This President has demonstrated his preference for force over reason, as well as a reactionary disposition toward international disagreements, rarely evincing clearly-defined goals or a serious understanding of the complexities present in international disputes. Though there are far too many examples of this to list off consecutively, one of the most recent and apparent is the President’s childish taunting of a nuclear power in his tweets towards North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. This, shortly followed by an agreement to hold diplomatic talks with North Korea given an absence of any concessions by Kim Jong Un, followed now, by the hasty replacement of Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo in anticipation of those talks, points to an improvisational, emotion-based approach that inspires only doubt and uncertainty. Now that the President is finally seeking diplomatic solutions with North Korea, it is critical to have a Secretary of State that strikes a more reasoned balance with our adversaries and will serve as a critical check on the President’s lackadaisical foreign policy stances. While this post is vital under any administration, it is imperative, under this President, that this cabinet position remain neutral and provide a reasonable, consistent voice on our foreign policy agenda. Allowing the President to drive his own foreign policy agenda (an agenda subject to the whims and passions of talk show hosts) without this voice will be detrimental to our national security and international standing.Though Tillerson can hardly be considered reasoned or neutral, he has demonstrated on multiple occasions, his willingness to oppose the President in favor of a more rational, considered option. Removing this voice at such a critical juncture will decrease our credibility in the international community and make it more difficult for us to avoid violent conflicts in the future. Mike Pompeo has demonstrated, repeatedly, that he is another yes man for this President. He has faced immense criticism for allowing his loyalty to the President to interfere with his duties as Director of the CIA. He has misrepresented the intelligence community’s assessments on Russian interference. He has a history of condoning the Agency’s role in torture and sees terrorism as this country’s greatest threat, without acknowledging the very real threats and intrusions from Russia. He has also supported the President’s forceful handling of North Korea and is likely to fall behind the President on any foreign policy decision.

As each day passes and more news breaks regarding this President’s complete disregard for well-developed foreign policy stances, we are faced with increasing national security threats. Replacing the one person responsible for maintaining those critical relationships only serves to degrade our credibility on the world’s stage and bring us closer to armed conflict with dangerous nuclear powers. With each irresponsible decision made by President Trump, the lack of dissent or moral opposition by the leaders of his party echoes louder, and our government falls further into the pit of an autocratic regime. We must put a stop to his unilateral, hasty, ill-conceived decisions and bring sanity back to Washington.”

Shelly Chauncey spent more than a decade as a counter-intelligence officer with the CIA. She has had extensive experience in the diplomatic arena surrounding issues of cyber security and national intelligence. She is currently a candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional district.

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Shelly Chauncey