Trump weighs plan to replace Tillerson with CIA's Pompeo

Published on Thursday, 30 November 2017 22:24
Written by The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is discussing a plan to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo in a major shake-up of President Donald Trump’s national security team, administration officials said Thursday.

The move would put Pompeo, a former congressman who has grown close to Trump during his tenure atop the CIA, in charge of U.S. diplomacy. Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO, has had a rough first year characterized by tensions with Trump in several foreign policy areas and overwhelmingly negative publicity over Tillerson’s planned overhaul of the State Department.

Putting Pompeo at the State Department would create a vacancy at the CIA, which U.S. officials and other individuals familiar with White House thinking said could be filled by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, one of Trump’s staunchest defenders on foreign policy in Congress. Cotton’s office wouldn’t comment other than to say: “Senator Cotton’s focus is on serving Arkansans in the Senate.”

Tillerson’s likely ouster loomed awkwardly over an Oval Office meeting Thursday between Trump and the visiting crown prince of Bahrain. Asked by a reporter whether he wanted Tillerson to stay on the job, Trump was coy, merely pointing out that Tillerson was in fact in the room for the meeting.

“He’s here. Rex is here,” the president said.

A White House official said it was unclear how soon Tillerson might be replaced, and word of the plan appeared to catch Tillerson and his staff off-guard. Tillerson aides and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The New York Times, which first reported the potential shake-up, said it was likely to happen within several weeks.

Nor was it clear whether either Pompeo or Cotton had been formally approached by the White House about the potential new roles. Yet several administration officials said that Pompeo has said in the past that he’s open to taking the job.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there were no staffing changes to announce and hinted that Tillerson would likely remain at least until year’s end.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Thursday, 30 November 2017 22:24. Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2017 22:27.