The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Train Rex

President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and named CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Today in 5 Lines

  • President Trump announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and named Gina Haspel to head the intelligence agency.

  • A State Department statement contradicted the White House's account of Tillerson's dismissal. The statement, attributed to Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein, said Tillerson didn't know he'd be fired until this morning. Goldstein was fired after its release.

  • During a news conference, Tillerson said his last day will be March 31, but he will delegate most of his duties to a deputy on Tuesday. Read the full transcript of his remarks here.

  • Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was reportedly fired after it was revealed he was being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security—but will be joining Trump’s re-election campaign.

  • Trump viewed prototypes of his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall in San Diego.

The Race We’re Watching

Voters are headed to the polls to cast their ballots in the special election to replace Representative Tim Murphy in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district.

The district has more registered Democrats than Republicans but went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016. Today’s race between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone has less to do with political power and everything to do with symbolism: A Democratic victory could show how the party can appeal to the white working class—and cause Republicans to rethink their midterms strategy.

Polls will close at 8 p.m. ET.

Note: Whoever wins today will have to run again in November, as court-mandated redistricting will render the current 18th district obsolete. Here’s what PA-18 will likely look like later this year.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Why Did Trump Fire Tillerson Now?: David Frum argues that the timing of the move raises questions about its motive.

  • Beholden to No One?: Donald Trump vowed to self-fund his presidential campaign and “drain the swamp.” But a photo with him at a fundraiser today in Beverly Hills will cost $100,000. (Conor Friedersdorf)

  • Terror in Texas: Package bombs have killed two people and injured two others in Austin, Texas. Here’s a short history of how the postal service has been exploited for terror. (Sarah Zhang)

  • Rocky Start: Four members of Trump’s original Cabinet will soon be gone or filling new senior-level jobs—and more changes could be on the way. (Russell Berman)

Follow stories throughout the day with our Politics & Policy portal.


President Trump participates in a tour of U.S.-Mexico border-wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

What We’re Reading

Who Is Gina Haspel?: Trump’s pick to lead the CIA is a career intelligence officer who ran a “black site” in Thailand, where she oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects. If confirmed, she would be the first female director of the agency. (Matthew Rosenberg, The New York Times)

An Answer to the Gun-Violence Problem: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry argues that all gun owners should undergo rigorous training and comprehensive evaluations—just like getting a driver’s license. (The Week)

Still Deplorable?: Hillary Clinton boasted in an interview this week that the states that she won in 2016 represent most of America’s gross domestic product—and suggested that Trump’s supporters were motivated by sexism and racism. (Aaron Blake, The Washington Post)

The Case Against Nordic Socialism: Jim Geraghty lays out the 10 reasons the United States shouldn’t try to be like Nordic countries. (National Review)

And Here’s the Response: Matt Bruenig over at the People’s Policy Project challenged Geraghty’s argument, writing that conservatives are operating on outdated myths, and “cannot decide among themselves whether the Nordics are a positive example of capitalism or a negative example of socialism.”

A Penny for Your Thoughts

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-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)