White House says Tillerson to remain as secretary of state

Dec 01, 2017, 01:33
White House says Tillerson to remain as secretary of state

Administration officials say the White House is developing a plan to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo but the timetable for a change is uncertain.

Days before that, Mr Trump had appeared to undermine Mr Tillerson, saying that...

USA officials and individuals familiar with White House plans have spoken about the possibility of a broad shakeup in President Donald Trump's national security team.

"There's been a Tillerson death watch since the spring", said Derek Chollet, a former State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council official in the Obama administration.

If Cotton were to take the Central Intelligence Agency job, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, would select someone to fill the vacant seat - and Republican officials would have a tight time frame to field a candidate who can win statewide in 2018, even though Arkansas is a deep red state.

Tillerson has been largely marginalized in the White House's decision-making process and he has faced widespread animosity within his department for inadequate staffing prompted by his planned overhaul of Foggy Bottom.

He has also been a defender of the worldwide community's nuclear deal with Iran - an agreement Trump pledged to scrap on the campaign trail, and has continued to lambast after taking office.

Tillerson was reported in October to have privately called Trump a "moron", something which the secretary of state sought to dismiss. He pointedly did not dispute those accounts.

The plan was developed by Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly and would have Sen.

At the White House, meanwhile, frustration with Tillerson has mounted over what officials have described as Tillerson's aloofness and his slowness in filling key roles to carry out the president's agenda. And Cotton's views are closely aligned with Trump's on Iran and immigration. Late Wednesday, the State Department said he would be represented by his deputy instead.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders echoed the president's comment that Tillerson has not been replaced.

"He's here. Rex is here", the President said without further remarks on the topic.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives to deliver remarks on U.S. - European Relations at the Wilson Center in Washington, Nov. 28, 2017.

She declined to speculate on how long the secretary might remain in his post.

After the briefings, Trump frequently asks Pompeo - who graduated first in his class at the US Military Academy at West Point and went on to Harvard Law School - to stick around to continue chatting one-on-one, the official said.

Any shake-up would come at a hard time for the State Department, which critics say has been hollowed out during the Trump administration. On several occasions, the president publicly undercut his diplomatic initiatives.

"I like having a steady hand, handling our diplomacy", Corker told reporters.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Tillerson's closest ally in the administration, simply brushed off the report.

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