(CN) - President Donald Trump announced a major shakeup in his cabinet Tuesday, removing Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
In a tweet shortly before 8 a.m. eastern time Tuesday, Trump also announced that Gina Haspel will become the new head of the CIA, and the first woman chosen to fill that position.
Haspel joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1985. In February 2017 President Trump appointed her the agency's deputy director.
Both appointments are subject to congressional approval, but the transition has already been plagued with controversy.
Even as word of Tillerson's firing was being announced, CNN was reporting the former secretary of state had not spoken to the president, was "blindsided by the announcement," and had not been told the reason for his removal.
That reporting was allegedly based on statements made by Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein. Hours later, Goldstein had also been fired.
During a brief appearance before reporters shortly after 2 p.m., a shaken-sounding Tillerson said he would be vacating his office at the end of the day and formally leave the State Department at the end of the month.
Tillerson told reporters that he spoke earlier in the day to President Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly "to ensure we have clarity as to the days ahead."
He also said he would urge other State Department officials to remain in their jobs.
"What is most important is to ensure an orderly and smooth transition during a time that the country continues to face significant policy and national security challenges," Tillerson said. "Between now and then, I will address a few administrative matters related to my departure and work towards a smooth and orderly transition."
Most of the Tillerson's prepared remarks were directed to State Department staff and America's allies.
“Nothing is possible without allies and partners though and much work remains to establish a clear view of the nature and future relationship with China including how should we deal with one another over the next 50 years," Tillerson said.
“Much work remains [in order to] respond to the troubling behavior on part of the Russian government," he continued. "Russia must assess carefully how its interests are in best interest of Russian people and the world. Continuing on their current trajectory will lead to greater isolation on their part, [and that is] a situation that is not in anyone's interest.”
Tillerson also said that much remains to be done to "achieve our mission on behalf of the American people, and much work remains with our allies and with partners."
To the personnel of the State Department, Tillerson said it had been a privilege to serve beside them for the last 14 months, "and witnessing the quiet, hard work you do every day to support this government with your tax dollars.”
“I'll now return to private life, a private citizen, proud of opportunity I've had to serve my country,” he said.
He left without answering questions from reporters.
Reaction to changes was predictably swift. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who has often been rumored to be a potential replacement for Tillerson, said on Twitter Monday that the move a "great decision by the president."