White House Plans To Fire Tillerson, Replace Him With CIA's Pompeo

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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. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Even so, an end-of-year exit would make his time in office the shortest of any secretary of state whose tenure was not ended by a change in presidents in almost 120 years.

If carried out, the staff changes would be the latest in a string of firings or resignations in the Trump administration including the departures of the chief of staff, national security adviser and Federal Bureau of Investigation director. "There's nothing to it", he said when asked.

"There are no personnel announcements at this time", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later said in a statement. Nauert added that Tillerson "serves at the pleasure of the president". Soon after, Trump publicly challenged his secretary to an IQ match.

Tensions have also run high between Tillerson and veteran diplomats who oppose his proposed staff and budget cuts and in some cases have privately accused him of hollowing out the State Department. He's been a supporter of President Trump.

Tillerson has taken a more hawkish view than Trump on Russian Federation and tried to mediate a dispute after four Arab nations launched a boycott of Qatar. Bill to save cyber diplomacy office advances America's decision on North Korea hinges on Trump's success in Asia MORE. Tillerson's advice to Trump to stay in the Paris climate deal and certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal was similarly overruled.

Pompeo, by contrast, is viewed as a trustworthy and effective loyalist by Trump and his team. A former businessman and conservative Republican congressman from Kansas, Pompeo is at the White House almost every day to deliver the daily intelligence briefing, a task often delegated to less senior officials. He shares the president's hardline stance against Iran.

Sen. Cotton, meanwhile, is a staunch conservative and ally to the president, best known for hawkishness on both foreign policy and immigration issues. Yet moving him would create a Senate vacancy just as Republicans need every vote possible.

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Kelly Arnold, chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, says Pompeo's time as director of the Central Intelligence Agency gives a good indication of what his approach to leading the State Department might be.

"So the question is not whether Pompeo can do the job but whether the president is going to let Pompeo do the job".

"They engaged in a foreign leader visit and are continuing to work together to close out what we've seen to be an incredible year".

A source familiar with Tillerson's thinking said the secretary of state's original plan when he took the job was to leave in February.

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.

Now, CBS News has confirmed the White House has a plan to force Tillerson out. Trump surprised many observers when he tweeted that Tillerson was "wasting his time" pursuing contacts with North Korea, and Tillerson was quoted as having said - though he denied it - that the president was a "moron". But Trump never signed off, and officials have struggled to focus his attention on the matter, the individual said.

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