We’ve heard rumors for weeks that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on shaky grounds with President Trump and would soon leave his post. It looks like that may happen before the end of the year according to a report from the New York Times.
Via reporters Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman:
WASHINGTON — The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, within the next several weeks, senior administration officials said on Thursday.
More from the bombshell report:
Mr. Pompeo would be replaced at the C.I.A. by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas who has been a key ally of the president on national security matters, according to the White House plan. Mr. Cotton has signaled that he would accept the job if offered, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations before decisions are announced.
The report is careful to state that President Trump has not fully approved of the plan, but, even so, it’s more than likely that Tillerson will soon be out at the State Department.
There’s been talk for months that Tillerson was on the outs with the White House. There were even reports that Tillerson actually considered resigning over the summer after he was undercut by Trump. Tillerson reportedly referred to Trump as a “moron” during one meeting, and had to be coaxed back to his position by Vice President Pence.
WATCH: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to resign, referred to Trump as a “moron” after a meeting at the Pentagon in July pic.twitter.com/3voE47ghwk
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 4, 2017
The White House is considering a major shakeup of President Donald Trump’s national security team in the coming weeks, according to a report by the New York Times’s Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman.
Administration officials are floating a plan in which Trump would push out Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with Mike Pompeo, who is currently serving as CIA director. Then, he would fill the CIA job with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
Now, this may not have been finalized just yet. Baker and Haberman write that it is “not immediately clear whether Mr. Trump has given final approval to the plan,” but that Chief of Staff John Kelly has drawn it up and widely circulated it. The timeline for implementing it, they write, would be “around the end of the year or shortly afterward.”
Observers across the political and foreign policy spectrum tend to view Tillerson as a failure at the State Department. The former Exxon Mobil CEO has been widely criticized as a bizarrely disconnected manager who has failed to effectively govern the department.
Perhaps more damaging for his internal prospects, though, was a report in October that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron” at one point in the summer — a report Tillerson has conspicuously never denied.
Pompeo, by contrast, is viewed as a trustworthy and effective loyalist by Trump and his team. Axios’s Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan reported last month that Pompeo’s stock was rising in the White House and that he was a leading contender to replace Tillerson.
Sen. Cotton, meanwhile, is a staunch conservative and ally to the president, best known for hawkishness on both foreign policy and immigration issues. He’s a 40-year-old Army veteran who was first elected to the Senate in 2014, and has been viewed as a rising star in the GOP.
If Cotton is nominated and confirmed to a Trump administration post, a temporary replacement for him in the Senate would be appointed by Arkansas’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, before a likely special election to fill the rest of his term later in 2018.
The report of Tillerson leaving should be taken seriously. Haberman and Baker are two of the most informed reporters covering President Trump. They have access to the White House most journalists lack. More than likely, we’ll have a new Secretary of State very soon.