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Trump Fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; British Demand Russia Explain Nerve Agent Attack; Palestinian Authority PM Survives Assassination Attempt. Aired 11a-12n ET

Aired March 13, 2018 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD in Abu Dhabi where is just about 7:00 in the evening. Just after

11:00 in Washington. Let's get right to the breaking news. Sending shock waves around the world, the United States' top diplomat is out and

apparently learned of the news on Twitter. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired today just hours after he returned from a trip to

Africa. President Donald Trump sent out a tweet this morning saying Tillerson will be replaced by current CIA director, Mike Pompeo. Mr. Trump

spoke about the shake up just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I worked with Mike Pompeo now for quite some time. Tremendous energy, tremendous intellect. We are

always on the same wavelength. The relationship has been very good. And that's what I need in Secretary of State. I wish Rex Tillerson well, but I

think Mike Pompeo will be a truly great Secretary of State. I have total confidence in him. And as far as Rex Tillerson is concerned, I very much

appreciate his commitment and his service, and I wish him well. We got a long actually quite well, but we disagreed on things. When you look at the

Iran deal, I think it's terrible. I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently. So, we

were not really thinking the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: The State Department Undersecretary is giving us some stunning details about how this went down. He says Tillerson had every intention of

staying on the job. He didn't speak to President Trump this morning and he has no idea why he was fired. We are covering reaction in Washington and

around the world this hour. Let's begin our coverage with White House reporter, Stephen Collinson and CNN political analyst, John Rogin. And

John, it has been an open secret for months that Tillerson was -- Josh, sorry -- as in the last chance saloon. But that doesn't make this news any

less shocking does it? What happened and why? Why sack him now?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, well, as you mentioned, it's been months that Rex Tillerson has been rumored to leaving for a number of well-

established reasons that I'm sure Rex Tillerson is aware of. Right? He's clashed with Trump on policy issues, they've not been on the same page in

terms of what Rex Tillerson was doing on key issues including North Korea diplomacy. There's just a clear break between the White House and the

State Department that never got resolved. And then add to that the sort of like all of the criminology stories about Rex calling Trump a moron and

this and that.

You get an untenable situation. The only shock was that it happened today and why it happened today opposed to any day is a complicated issue. And

basically, what's going on inside the White House is Trump is cleaning house. OK. He's turning over his entire administration. He had Gary Cohn

leave, HR McMaster is on the ropes. You've got a whole bunch of people that Trump was sort of never really happy with and he's made a decision

that he wants an administration, a cabinet and White House of people who agree with him and who like him and who we can work with a little bit

better. And Rex is just the latest one of these departures. He won't be the last, I assure you.

ANDERSON: Stephen, his last hoorah -- that's Rex Tillerson -- then telling reporters aboard a flight from Africa that he'd grown extremely concerned

about Russia. What we've seen, he reportedly said, is a pivot on their part to be more aggressive. Timing wise, was his attitude and his

statement on Russia what killed his career in foggy bottom at the end of the day?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It's very jarring, put it that way. Given the fact that the president, of course, has a history of

restraining himself when he is asked to criticize Russia. And the fact that the White House on Monday refused to come out and immediately back

Britain's contention that the poisoning of that ask Russian spy in Salisbury was done by Russia.

[11:05:00] So that's going to raise a lot of questions. I think Josh is right. What we're going to see here is President Trump unleash I think, on

the world stage. He's gathering around him people who are of a similar mind set who have been less likely to challenge him on foreign policy.

Tillerson let's not forget, was a restraining force along with Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. Tillerson in many ways was responsible for the

survival of the Iran deal by working with key factors in Congress and Mattis last year to persuade Trump not to immediately pull out of the Iran

deal.

Mike Pompeo, the former CIA head now who's going to be Secretary of State has been much more politically astute, you can say, in keeping on the page

with Trump, as has another influential force in foreign policy Nikki Haley of the U.N. So, I think you're going to see more Trump being Trump on the

world stage. And I think that's a recipe for more disruption and a more robust U.S. role on the world stage.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Well, this is how Rex Tillerson found out he was fired through this tweet right here. From President Trump.

Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!

Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!

Josh, you just heard Stephen talking about where he thinks this shake up goes and what it means for U.S. national security and foreign policy, your

thoughts.

ROGIN: Yes, it's interesting. So first of all, at the State Department, there might be a net positive effect in the sense that Rex Tillerson's

State Department is a miserable place to work. The foreign service officers are clearing out, moral is terrible. Most of the senior positions

haven't even been filled. People haven't even been nominated. And most of all they've been disconnected from foreign policy making that is

centralized at the White House.

Now that they are going to have a leader who actually is liked in the White House and who has a really close and positive relationship with President

Trump, they might be back in the game. That's like the optimistic view here, especially as we go into the North Korea summit. You could have a

State Department and a White House working together on important diplomacy, which is new in this administration and potentially a good thing.

You know, I think the other thing is that the CIA, you've got a career officer who is going to take the helm of the CIA and that's a big surprise

because people have been saying that Tom Cotton was going to get that job in the CIA would become further politicized. So, it shows that Trump is

sort of putting an adult in charge, but also that he wants to let the CIA be the CIA and not try to turn it into another branch of the Trump

campaign. And then you've got Pompeo who is really, really smart about dealing with President Trump. Right? He doesn't condescend to him. He

finds a way to answer his questions without seeming like he's pushing him or constraining him. It's not that he's not a hawk. Pompeo's a hawk.

He's just very good at convincing Trump and staying in Trump's good graces. So, that means he can be very, very influential.

ANDERSON: Finally, Stephen, for the time being, what is Rex Tillerson's legacy then?

COLLINSON: You know, it's very difficult to point to a major foreign policy achievement. As Josh was saying, his own State Department was in

disarray largely because of his intention to work with the White House to slash its budget. There was a real disconnect between Trump and his own --

Tillerson and his own diplomatic core. I think you could say that on the world stage for a while he was a restraining voice in the Trump

administration. But the problem was being that every time he spoke to someone from a foreign government, they questioned whether Tillerson

actually had the ear of Trump or whether he was genuinely speaking for Trump. That's something that could change under Pompeo.

You know, it's one of the shortest tenures of every single -- and Secretary of State in any administration. At the end of the day, because of the

situation he was in, because of his disconnect with the President, just because of the highly unusual nature of this administration, it's difficult

to say that he had any real single achievement.

ANDERSON: Stephen Collinson's in Washington, Josh also with us today. Gentlemen, thank you for that. Rex Tillerson had this to say to CNN's

Elise Labott at the start of the year. Less than two months ago. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I look forward to having a very, very successful 2018.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the whole year?

TILLERSON: I intend to be here for the whole year.

LABOTT: Has the president given you any indication [11:10:00] that you won't be around for a while?

[11:10:00] TILLERSON: None.

LABOTT: None whatsoever?

TILLERSON: None whatsoever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, that was a couple of months ago. It remains to be seen what the rest of his 2018 pans out to be. The news from D.C. still

rippling out globally. For more on how this will be viewed across the world, international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is in London for us.

Emerging markets editor, John Defterios, is here with me in Abu Dhabi. And John, I want to start with you. In his comments, his first comments on the

firing just moments ago, President Trump highlighted the deal with Iran as one of the issues that he and Tillerson disagreed on. This was a big point

of contention here in the Gulf too. Explain why.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNNMONEY EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Ok, first and foremost, when anybody says that Rex Tillerson and I got along quite well, you know

they had trouble. And I would suggest that Iran was the defining issue. Very black and white for different opinions. As Stephen was suggesting

here, Rex Tillerson decided to work behind the scenes to try to build support on Capitol Hill to keep Iran within the tent of the JCPOA. He

thought it was better to keep them in a multilateral agreement that was shared by the European Union and the P5 plus one, except for Donald Trump.

He completely disagreed.

And I think you can measure the volume of the noise around Mike Pompeo coming into the position of Secretary of State from the United Nations

speech that Donald Trump underlined yet again. He thought the Iran deal was very bad. Mid-October when Rex Tillerson tried to change this, not to

be a 90-day rolling agreement going forward, and then right through mid- November when we saw Mike Pompeo here.

Now, to your point about the Gulf states themselves, their very much and aligned with Mike Pompeo. He says the Muslim Brotherhood as one advisor to

both Saudi Arabia. The UAE suggested to me tonight as an elixir to terrorism. They want to take a hard line against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Rex Tillerson did not. The second key issue here is not only just on Iran, but on Qatar, Rex Tillerson was a defender of Qatar and he actually said to

the Crown Prince of Bahrain in a meeting at the end of 2017, we think you're making a mistake. That the economic embargo should be solved. We

should have the GCC together and if necessary the U.S. is prepared to defend the Allahdad Air Force Base in Qatar as well.

ANDERSON: So, if it will suit some in capitals around this region, Nic, how will this go down in capitals across Europe and beyond?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, not very well. And the reality is as our colleagues have been saying here, is that

it will become widely recognized that Rex Tillerson was really, you know, not representative of Trump. And I think the same is going to apply. And

we heard that from President Trump today saying that really what he needed from a Secretary of State was someone who thinks like him. And he says he

believes he has that in Mike Pompeo.

So, when Tillerson first arrived on the international scene, I remember watching and going to a meeting at NATO, and he really came as a sort of a

broad-shouldered guy on a mission for the president to deliver a very tough message. Busting in, telling the other ambassadors and foreign secretaries

that NATO that they needed to pay their portion otherwise the United States will pull its support from NATO. So, he came in with a very tough message

and it was relatively abrasive. But I think what they began to see, and this is what I had in conversation just a couple weeks ago with a senior

British official from the foreign office, who told me, look, you might not find Rex Tillerson speaks much publicly, but behind the scenes we think

that he is good. We think that he's effective. That he understands what he's doing. That he understands the broad scope and scale of how sort of

global diplomacy works. And he's working to achieve that.

But I think throw that to one side, the very clear message now is that President Trump is in charge. He's said this before about Tillerson and

the State Department. You know, it's my word, my decisions. Oh, look at that trip the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, made to China. A weekend

flight to Beijing to try to get them to be tougher on sanctions on North Korea. And before he could even turn around and land back in Washington,

President Trump was tweeting saying, don't bother, don't waste your energy, Rex. We'll fix it. This is what the new Secretary of State really

inherits, which is the force of President Trump behind them. But huge question marks on his ability to be anything other than a mouthpiece for

the president.

ANDERSON: That's the story then for European capitals from Nic's perspective and beyond. Back to you John, to this region. This White

House is nurturing very good relations with Saudi Arabia in particular the young Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman there.

[11:15:03] How did Rex Tillerson fit in there? And you alluded to the Qatar feud. How did he fit in with regards Saudi and this Qatar crisis?

DEFTERIOS: Well, first and foremost, Becky, you asked the very key question. He didn't fit into Saudi Arabia whatsoever despite his relations

of this region as an oil executive. It was Jared Kushner who controlled the relations in Riyadh. He built a very tight bond with Mohammed bin

Salman, the Crown Prince. Who is 32 years old. Jared is now 37 years old. He took several trips under the radar to Riyadh to build that visit for

Donald Trump at the end of May 2017 that led to a $100 billion military contract that could expand to $300 billion. Rex Tillerson's view though,

Becky, was they were given a blank check to the Crown Prince and King Salman, to take action against Qatar. To check Iran and its influence in

Yemen and Syria and Lebanon for a potential deal between the Palestinians and Israel. Even though the capital as we know being moved to Jerusalem.

Rex Tillerson did not agree with that strategy. He was completely overruled by Jared Kushner. There a lot of reports that in fact, that

Kushner never briefed Rex Tillerson on his movements in Saudi Arabia, although the White House suggested differently.

ANDERSON: The Crown Prince will be in Washington in a week or so's time. So, if what we have been discussing is any sort of credibility,

(CROSSTALK). Then there will be a different dynamic for the Saudi's on that trip. Nic, just 24 hours ago, Tillerson was still on the job meeting

with the Nigerian foreign minister and president, finishing up an African tour. Nic, a year of work, diplomacy overseas all for nothing it seems,

now that the messenger has gone. We talked a little earlier in this show with Stephen Collinson and Josh. We talked about the fact that there's

very little legacy for Rex Tillerson on the international stage. Your sense?

ROBERTSON: You know, I think that has to be the way that we could look at it. He made -- Rex Tillerson made a trip to many South American countries

early on this year. It was really without fanfare, without a huge amount of read out, without really any major headlines coming from it. And

clearly preparation for President Trump's visit there next month. However, you know, if we look -- that essentially became the underlying theme that

he was just an annex to everything else -- the path that the White House was going on. You know, President Trump made it clear today that he took

the decision on Thursday to have the face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea. He took that decision himself without consulting Rex

Tillerson. We now know the following day on Friday, Rex Tillerson was, of course, in Africa at that time on very important diplomatic mission to

Ethiopia, Djibouti, Nigeria, as you say Chad, he also went to.

On the Friday he had the phone call from the Chief of Staff, John Kelly, apparently alluding that something might be about to change. And very

interestingly we couldn't really understand this at the time. But on the Saturday, Tillerson was too ill to perform his duties. And it was sort of

said that he needed to get some rest. Maybe he had been working lock hours.

But I think when we see him on the flight on the way back tweeting very clearly after the White House failed to support Theresa May, British

partners in the it way that he would have hoped they might, he was very clear about his view on Russia. And I think it was small shots like that

that have been amplified by the U.S. ambassador today in the U.K. supporting the British government. And now President Trump has come on

board to a degree. But I think in that, you know, his diplomatic counterparts around the world can take solace. But solace isn't enough.

You need to take things to the bank. And that's what Theresa May was looking for. And whatever President Trump has said this afternoon it's not

the same.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson's in London. Very briefly, John, it does seem ironic that when Rex Tillerson was put into position as Secretary of State

by Donald Trump, we looked to this former oil man and thought this region specifically would quite like that position. This is a man he knows how to

do business. He's traveled all over the world, not least to this region over the years. This will work, we thought, for those running these

countries around the Gulf and beyond. In the end, though, it didn't.

DEFTERIOS: Yes, in fact, some said that here in particular, and those I spoke to this evening said expectations are very high.

[11:20:00] The deliverables as a former chief executive were very low. He doesn't have a legacy here. A couple things, Becky. Back in October when

the noise was very loud about him leaving, the guy is worth $300 million. He had to forgo some of his stock options until he leaves the State

Department. Many said that he lost face when he didn't step down at the time. This is an experiment gone bad. He ran the 13th largest company in

the world. The largest publicly traded oil company. Many thought he could bring that into foggy bottom, as your suggesting. That experiment didn't

work. And I think the danger here is -- and one source told me this tonight. That Mr. Pompeo will be an enabler. Letting Donald Trump do what

he wants. Rex Tillerson as a CEO thought he could restrain Donald Trump, and that didn't work. And they just clashed all the time, particularly of

Iran and Qatar as well.

ANDERSON: Fascinating times, not least for this region. John, thank you. Nic is in London for us tonight.

The U.K.'s Russian spy drama we've just been alluding to it. Charges towards a dead line. Will Russia respond to Britain's ultimatum by

midnight tonight. What that ultimatum is and what happens next is up next here on CNN. We are live in the U.K. and in Moscow for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: The U.K. and Russia are on a diplomatic collision course and time is ticking away. British Prime Minister, Theresa May, giving Russia

until midnight tonight, less than nine hours away, to explain how a Russian nerve agent was used to attack a former double agent and his daughter.

Both of whom are still in a critical condition. The attack also endangered British citizens in the town of Salisbury. Russia has denied involvement

and now say they will not respond to the U.K.'s ultimatum until they have their own samples of the nerve agent. But after a briefing with the

emergency British Security Council known As Cobra, Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said the next move is Russia's.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMBER RUDD, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: The Russians have started responding. The Prime Minister has been very clear that they have until midnight

tonight to satisfy her requests. Until then, we'll wait and see what they have put forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, it's a story with global implications and we have all the angles for you. Nick Paton Walsh is in London for a security briefing

there. While, Erin McLaughlin is in Salisbury.

[11:25:00] The community left reeling by the attack, of course. Well. And in Moscow, Fred Pleitgen with Russian reaction or perhaps the lack thereof.

Nick, let's start with you. What is the latest, the very latest on the investigation?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I just heard from the man leading it, counterterrorism police officer, Neil Bus, who

head of the investigation unit here at the Metropolitan Police. What is interesting is a week almost precisely since they it declared they would be

the lead in this investigation, they don't actually know where it seems the poison was delivered. They are not able to specify that. We do know a few

more things though as the clock ticks, frankly, towards and ultimatum that Moscow says is ignoring. So, I think all eyes really here in London focus

on what response will see from Britain tomorrow.

But the investigation says how 38 people needed hospital treatments, all but four are fine. Three are still in hospital. That's Sergei and Yulia

Skripal and the police officer, DS Nick Bailey and another person being treated as an outpatient. But they were able to provide a time line of the

event. Which is crucial in learning exactly where the poison may have been administered and whether or not a third party was involved in that. You

still don't know at this stage. Now, Mr. Basu was quite clear that they are not interviewing at this point any persons of interest in the

investigation. They don't have a suspect for the person who may have done the administering of the poison. They do know that Yulia, the daughter,

flew in on a Saturday at about 240 from Moscow into Heathrow. Then she presumably spent the night with her father. They left in their car, a red

BMW 2 Series. They gave one place or that and about 1:00. At 1:40 arrived at the Bishops Mill pub, had a drink, and at 2:20 went for a pizza at

Zizzi's. Both places which are now considered to have low levels of contamination. Where people are being told to wash their cloth if they

went there. And then left the pizza restaurant at about 3:3, you can only presume they spent about 40 minutes on the bench near the park before

people began to call emergency services noticing that they were losing consciousness.

So, a clear timeline here. But most importantly, Assistant Commissioner Basu unable to say if any of those particular places are places where

people should be more on concerned about level of contamination. I.e., they don't know which one may have been where sort of the words dose was

delivered. And they are asking people to come forward if they saw the father and daughter in that red BMW driving through town between about 1:00

and 1:40 on that Sunday afternoon. But importantly at this point, no other person has apparently been questioned as far as we know publicly in

relation to this attempted murder.

ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh outside New Scotland yards. Fred, London has spoken. The clock is ticking. Aside from calling this a circus show, what

more can we expect from Moscow? They've got an ultimate from the Brits at this point.

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they've an ultimatum. They say they don't care about the ultimatum, Becky. They

say what they want from the Brits is they want samples of the alleged toxin that was use there. In the case of Sergei Skripal, they said they sent a

note to the British government demanding to get that toxin, that sample, so that they can evaluate it for themselves. The Russians are saying that

according to the treaty of the organization to prevent chemical weapons, which is obviously a tree to ban chemical weapons, they have a right to be

able to evaluate that toxin by themselves and for themselves. And they say until that is the case, they are not going to be issuing any sort of

statement towards what the Brits are saying.

The Russians are even going one step further. It might surprise some people that they've called in, they've summoned the British ambassador to

Moscow, and they've told him that there very concerned about this situation. Very concerned about some of the things being said in the

public, being said by the British government. They also say they believe the Brits are in breach of this very treaty by not giving them the samples.

And they say this could have consequences for the relation between the United Kingdom and Russia. Obviously, the Brits are saying the same thing

for different reasons. But as you can see, the Russians saying they are not going to respond until they get the samples and certainly starting to

fire back as well, if you will -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Fred's in Moscow. Let's get you to Salisbury. How, Erin, is the city of Salisbury coping at this point?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, people here are concerned and of course, on edge. Keep in mind this is an extremely tiny city of

some 40,000 individuals. Previously known for its stunning cathedral and proximity to Stonehenge. Now they find themselves in the midst of this

international attempted murder mystery. And people here are also incredibly concerned, as you heard Nick there say about the number of

questions that police have yet to answer. Namely the source of the contamination. How Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia became poisoned?

They still do not know. What we do know is that trace contamination was found in the pizza restaurant, Zizzi's, which is just behind me as well as

the local pub.

[11:30:00] I was speaking to Steve Cooper, a resident who was inside the pub at the same time as the Skripals. He says, he's incredibly concerned.

He thinks that the advice from public health officials to simply wash his clothes is not enough. He wants more information. And the fact of the

matter is they don't have a lot of information about the type of nerve agent that was used. It was developed in the Soviet era and that's about

it. Boris Johnson himself saying this is the first time it has been used to his knowledge in Western Europe. And one thing that authorities are

saying is that whatever it is, it's likely to linger. So, people here are incredibly concerned about the potential health repercussions for weeks and

months to come -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Erin McLaughlin is in Salisbury.

Just ahead more on what is our breaking news for this hour. The latest chaos in the Trump administration. The sudden firing of Secretary of

State, Rex Tillerson. Why? And what happens next is what we will discuss after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:35:00] ANDERSON: You are back with CONNECT THE WORLD. It is just after 7:30 in the UAE. Just after 11:30 in the morning in Washington. And

I want to get you back to our top story, which is based right out of that city.

The dismissal of the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by President Donald Trump. With Rex Tillerson learning of his firing on Twitter no

less. The latest earthquake in what is this ever-changing administration. Less than two hours ago, President Trump said he wished Rex Tillerson well,

but also, they had butted heads on some issues during his tenure as Secretary of State. Notably the Iran deal.

For the very latest, Michelle Kosinski is joining us now from the State Department. Michelle, we have just got this. We are just getting this

from a State Department official.

Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein, said and I quote, the secretary had every intention of remaining because of the tangible progress made on

critical national security issues. He established and enjoyed relationships with his counterparts. The secretary did not speak to the

president this morning and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve.

While many in the State Department I think it is fair to say would argue with Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein's description of what Rex

Tillerson has achieved at the State Department, do you think this kind of statement is out all typical?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: I mean this is what we're hearing from them. This is the sort of thing we're hearing.

It's not even clear at this point when Tillerson knew the writing was on the wall that he was out. Because we know he got a phone call on Friday

from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

He was traveling at the time, Tillerson was, in Africa. So, he gets this call alluding to something happening. It could have been that his job was

now gone but the timing was unclear. Because the State Department is also saying that he found out the same way that everybody else found out, that

he lost his job this morning in a Trump tweet and this coming out in the press.

So, there are a lot of details we need to nail down on what exactly happened here and what Tillerson knew. Hopefully we'll hear directly from

Former Secretary Tillerson later on today. But there are a lot of stunned reactions around the State Department here. It's not because they didn't

see this had coming. We have been reporting on this possibility since December at least.

I think it even extended to before then. When there were people -- that's when it really reached ahead, because there were people within the White

House saying it's time for Rex to leave. We're waiting for him to punch out and go. Time's up for Tillerson. He needs to leave before the first

of the year.

But then something happened between him and Trump. They had a lunch together and it seemed as if fences were mended and Tillerson was talking

about staying for a long time. As long as the president would have him. Now, it's the suddenness of this. At least some of it we can see came as a

surprise to Tillerson. Whether it was that it happened today, were there it was a full-on loss of his job.

The fact that this is once again the way the president's Secretary of State is treated by the president that's what has people shaking their heads and

realizing that Tillerson had put up with this kind of treatment and undercutting and indignity for some time and this is the way it ends.

ANDERSON: While there are outstanding issues of who knew what and when, Michelle, thank you for that. I want to get to more on this departure and

what it means. I'm joined by "The Washington Post's" White House correspondent, Anne Gearan.

And Anne, I want our viewers to have a look at this. The State Department 's own website showing senior officials with twice as many more senior

positions that are vacant than filled. And this has been for months. Rex Tillerson presided over what many have called the gutting of the State

Department. So, one assumes many at state, who have worked there in the past will be relieved by this decision, this shake up. What do you think

it Mike Pompeo means for state and for what state does around the world?

ANNE GEARAN. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: You're quite right that there will be some measure of relief to see Tillerson go from

the rank and file.

[11:40:00] Certainly, from the White House personnel offices, which are trying to fill those ranks and get ambassadors, but also much lower ranking

officials in place. And who have said for nearly a near that they consider Tillerson an obstacle. One of Tillerson's policy initiatives had nothing

to do with foreign policy and have everything to do with the State Department and that was to institute the hiring froze and try to remake the

way the way the department was staffed. Make it much more linear.

He came from ExxonMobil, from a corporate culture that was very top down, and he was uncomfortable from the beginning with all of the sort of lateral

way decisions were made at the State Department. He tried to streamline a fair amount of that. No doubt some streamlining needed to be done, but he

lost the good will of a lot of employees at the State Department that I can like he wasn't filling jobs that needed to be filled.

As to what to expect from Pompeo, certainly his experience at the CIA suggest issues that he is a different kind manager than Tillerson was at

state. He has filled top jobs at the CIA. And in fact, one of those top jobs is another person who has who has been tapped to succeed him at the

helm of CIA. So, he may run the State Department differently.

ANDERSON: It might seem as though Tillerson's tenure sort of went by in a flash, but he does not hold the record for the shortest stand as Secretary

of State. That distinction goes to James G. Blaine. As you will be well aware, he served just nine months in a James Garfield administration.

However, Blaine was appointed to the position again under Benjamin Harrison and lasted three years that time around. I've been asking, and I will ask

you very briefly if you will, for what you then think, or how you would sum up Rex Tillerson's legacy as Secretary of State to the United States.

GEARAN: I think his legacy will be you have to have a better relationship with the president from the get-go if you want to be an effective Secretary

of State. He had many tools at his disposal that would have made his tenure go much better than it did. The main thing that was wrong was the

thing that was broken at the beginning. He didn't have a tight bond and trust relationship with the president.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Always a pleasure. Thank you so much for your analysis.

GEARAN: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, the finger pointing begins after an assassination attempt against the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister.

A live report from Jerusalem is up next.

[11:45:00] COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Quarter to 8:00 in the UAE. You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. I'm in Abu Dhabi and this is

our Middle Eastern hub. To Gaza where the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority has survived an attempt on his life. Rami Hamdallah

was passing through the north of Gaza when his convoy was targeted by an explosion. The Palestinian Authority has condemned the assassination and

says that it holds Hamas responsible.

But Hamas says it wasn't behind it and has also condemned the attack. CNN's Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem. Sort this out for us. What do we know

at this point?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First, what actually happened. The Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was visiting the Gaza Strip, a short visit in

this case, to open a new water treatment facility. Gaza desperately needing ways to treat its water that contributing to the humanitarian

crisis there. But it was shortly after he crossed the Erez border crossing from Israel into Gaza, that an explosion went off right near his convoy.

From pictures we saw on Palestine TV, a number of cars were damaged. Some had the siding ripped off and windows blown out. The Palestinian Ministry

of Interior says no one was injured there. It is also worth noting that Hamdallah was not the only big figure there. The Minister of Intelligence

Majid Faraj was also in that convoy. He's considered a close confidant of the Palestinian president.

But as I said nobody injured there. This quickly devolved into finger pointing and accusations, as you pointed out, between the Palestinian

Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. And that is basically where it stands right now. Though Hamas so does this wasn't us and condemned it

as well, what this highlights essentially name-calling the accusations is the deep rift that remains between these two even as they both try to

pursue a reconciliation agreement that stalled months ago, Becky.

ANDERSON: Oren. In the meantime, it's a day of political brinkmanship in Israel as parliament convenes to patch up differences or really the

exemption of ultraorthodox men in the army. Or at least try to do so. If no agreement can be reached, as I understand it, the government a Benjamin

Netanyahu could be doomed. Very chaotic times in Israel at present. Not least the man who was on our screens at present, the prime minister. How

and why is this what is going on in parliament today important?

LIEBERMANN: That's a big question because chaotic in Israeli politics right now. It's essentially a game of brinkmanship as you pointed out with

each of the six parties in Netanyahu's coalition trying to extract the maximum out of what is clearly a coalition crisis here. One with some late

breaking developments that look like may have been solved at least temporarily for the course of the next few weeks here.

At the heart of it is what's known as the draft bill, the ultraorthodox parties within Netanyahu's coalition are looking for an exemption for

ultraorthodox youth. They don't want them to have to serve in the Israeli military. Which has a mandatory draft. That has offended and angered some

of the other parties and that is at the heart of the coalition crisis.

And yet a number of the political leaders have pointed out that if the government were to fall, if there were elections, which would be in

approximately three months, the man who benefits the most is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Why? The elections would be in late June which is

after Israel's 70th anniversary. It's after the U.S. moves its embassy to Jerusalem. So, every event that surrounds those celebrations becomes

essentially a campaign rally for Netanyahu. And that realization has sort of forced the parties pack to the table here and we'll find out within the

next few hours or perhaps late tonight whether this coalition crisis has been averted or whether we are off to elections.

ANDERSON: Busy times. And as you rightly point out a busy night not just for lawmakers but of course for our staff there in Jerusalem as a result of

that. Thank you, Oren, live from Abu Dhabi. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson

Coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want this happening to anyone else. It needs to stop. Things need to change. We can't just be that person that sits

and watches. We need to do something about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Not your typical school lesson. How some young people want to help and modern-day slavery and trafficking. A look ahead to what is My

Freedom Day, March the 14th. Do stay with us for that.

[11:50:00] [(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Wednesday is a big day here at CNN. My Freedom Day starts in just six hours. Now we are partnering with young people around the world

for what is a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. This is the second year that we

have done this. Hugely important, one thing for certain, freedom not just a catch word. The generation, this generation determined to make a

difference. Have a look at one classroom in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT PLOYD, TEACHER: Smithfield is a very rural family-based town. The sense of community it is a very big part of our local culture and identity.

My name is Matt Ployd, I am a teacher of U.S.-VA Government at Smithfield High School.

Hi everybody, good morning, how we doing? My first day on this job about a year and a half ago, my new department head asked me what do you know about

human trafficking? Have you given any thought about making that your project-based learning topic? The answer was nothing and no and sure. I

jump into it and haven't looked back.

I like that convinced. The Prevention Project is a nonprofit organization and they provide a curriculum for us to teach human trafficking in a real-

world sense to high school kids. Our students are taking the information they are getting, and they are taking it off the PowerPoint, they are

taking it out of the textbook and they are addressing it in the real world.

They are making sure their congressmen, their senators and their government officials know what they are learning and know what they expect for them to

do about the problem. And they have actually pushed for events in the community to help bring awareness to the community about how serious this

is in our area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In every sting single state in America there has been a case of human trafficking.

PLOYD: We decided to put together a presentation to raise awareness of human trafficking. The goal being trying to convince local lawmakers to

institute education on human trafficking into the local curriculum across the board and to all middle schools or high schools in the county.

If this one classroom connects the speaker difference, and at this one classroom can have this much of an impact, what can an entire system do?

The one thing the kids said is we want to meet somebody that's really had to live with this. That's how to deal with this.

MONICA, HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR: My name is Monica and I am human trafficking survivor.

PLOYD: Having Monica come in has inspired the kids and made it real. Now it is not something you read about or see in a movie. It's somebody flesh

and blood standing right in front of you. I thought it was important for them to see firsthand and hear a story, and not be able to turn the other

way.

BREIGH CAMPBELL, STUDENT: When Monica came and spoke to us, that's when I got the idea of writing Monica monologues to show what the different views

are. I decided to take her story and to put into words from my point of view of what would be like if I was in her shoes.

ELISE BROWN, STUDENT: Monica was a part of my inspiration. I don't want this happening to anyone else. This needs to stop. Things need to change.

We can't just be the person that sits and watches. We need to do something about it. We want better. We want change.

ABBY CONYERS, STUDENT: I have found such a passion in this problem. That I now want to take that onto my college career. And be able to make a

change not only in my community here but future communities that I'm going to be a part of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wrote a song I call "The Sale of Your Sister." Just been chosen to perform or share my piece, it's an honor.

PLOYD: My students humble me on a day-to-day basis. My students tend to push things further than what I anticipate seeing them doing.

[11:55:00] They have a drive that I couldn't have imagined before I started doing this it. My students are rock stars.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Inspired? In just six hours, a worldwide student-led day of action against modern day slavery begins. We are playing our part here in

Abu Dhabi down at the American Community School where they have been thinking a lot about what freedom means to them. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOOR, STUDENT, AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF ABU DHABI: Freedom means to me is as to be able to be included in society without being --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: That's seventh grader, Noor, we'll be talking to her and her schoolmates and teachers tomorrow. Before then, please do join the

conversation and tell the world what freedom means to you. Share your story using the hashtag #MyFreedomDay. We have a lot more ahead as we look

towards "My Freedom Day" just minutes from now.

CNN's Richard Quest will be live at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Now that is the busiest airport in the world, and

it is also a hub for human trafficking. We are going to hear from experts about how they track down traffickers in the airport and in hotels. And we

will look at how corporations like Delta Air Lines are joining in the fight. That is "QUEST EXPRESS" which starts at the top of this hour. A

couple minutes from now.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD from Abu Dhabi. Thank you for watching. From the team here, and those working with us round the

world it is a very good evening.

END