White House dismisses rumors on Secretary of State Tillerson's removal
Reports in the US media have indicated that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be replaced with CIA chief Mike Pompeo. The White House has responded by dismissing these reports as rumors and clarified that Tillerson would continue in his position. This comes even as Tillerson and President Donald Trump clash on multiple US foreign policy issues, including North Korea and Iran. Here's more.
What did the media reports reveal?
Reports on Tillerson's replacement first appeared in the New York Times and Vanity Fair. These indicated that Tillerson will be replaced by Pompeo as early as December 2017. An Associated Press report also quotes two anonymous White House officials stating that a plan was being discussed. Meanwhile, NYT revealed that Pompeo's position as Director of CIA will be assigned to Republican Senator Tom Cotton.
White House: Rumors on Tillerson are not true
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders clarified that Tillerson will continue to be in charge of the State Department. "As the president just said: 'Rex is here,'" she added. Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, acknowledged that Tillerson and Trump had policy differences. However, she revealed that White House Chief-of-Staff John Kelly had called the department to confirm that the "rumors weren't true.
Will Tillerson being replaced over differences with Trump?
Trump and Tillerson differ on handling North Korea. Trump recently said Tillerson was "wasting his time" by engaging diplomatically with Pyongyang. Meanwhile, Tillerson reportedly referred to Trump as a "moron" in private conversation. However, Tillerson appears to enjoy popularity in international quarters as a reasonable voice within the Trump administration. Despite their differences, it seems unlikely that he will be removed.