Rex Tillerson

Tillerson Talks About Frustrations on the Job

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he did not mean to criticize the U.S. government but that, on a whole, “it’s largely not a highly disciplined organization.”

Said Tillerson: “Decision-making is fragmented, and sometimes people don’t want to take decisions. Coordination is difficult through the interagency process.”

Tillerson Blows Up at Top White House Aide

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s frustrations with the White House have been building for months. Last Friday, they exploded. The normally laconic Texan unloaded on Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, for torpedoing proposed nominees to senior State Department posts and for questioning his judgment,” Politico reports.

“Tillerson also complained that the White House was leaking damaging information about him to the news media, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Above all, he made clear that he did not want DeStefano’s office to ‘have any role in staffing’ and ‘expressed frustration that anybody would know better’ than he about who should work in his department — particularly after the president had promised him autonomy to make his own decisions and hires.”

“The episode stunned other White House officials gathered in chief of staff Reince Priebus’ office, leaving them silent as Tillerson raised his voice.”

White House Frustration Grows with Tillerson Over Jobs

“The White House is becoming increasingly frustrated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a close-knit circle of aides over the slow pace of hiring and a chokehold on information and access to Tillerson,”: the Washington Post reports.

“Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil chief executive with no prior government experience, gets some of the blame from White House officials and political advisers anxious to place Republican political appointees in numerous vacant positions at the State Department.”

McCain Slams Tillerson on Foreign Policy

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) slammed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a New York Times op-ed, accusing the nation’s chief diplomat of adopting a foreign policy that abandons both U.S. values and victims of oppression around the world, Politico reports.

McCain’s op-ed came in response to remarks Tillerson delivered last week to State Department employees, in which he said that “in some circumstances if you condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values, we probably can’t achieve our national security goals.”

“Tillerson’s boss, President Donald Trump, has made a habit of offering warm words for dictators and political strongmen from around the world, including Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.”

Tillerson In No Rush to Fill 200 Jobs

New York Times: “Many have little to do until the Trump administration starts filling the nearly 200 jobs at the department that require Senate confirmation, and their agendas look increasingly as though they will remain empty. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has done almost nothing to select leaders for the White House’s consideration, and nominations for assistant secretaries and others who largely run the State Department are unlikely to be made for months.”

“With a Senate confirmation process that takes months, that means the department will remain largely leaderless until well into 2018. And no other department in the federal government is as dependent on political appointees, or as paralyzed when the appointment process freezes.”

Trump Officials Don’t Agree on Syria Regime Change

“Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria… There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime.”

— U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, in an interview on CNN.

“When you undertake a violent regime change in Libya, and the situation in Libya continues to be very chaotic and I would argue that the life of the Libyan people has — is not all that well off today, so I think we have to learn the lessons of the past and learn the lessons of what went wrong in Libya when you choose that pathway of regime change.”

— Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in an interview on ABC News.

An Invisible Secretary of State

Politico: “Tillerson takes a private elevator to his palatial office on the seventh floor of the State Department building, where sightings of him are rare on the floors below. On many days, he blocks out several hours on his schedule as ‘reading time,’ when he is cloistered in his office poring over the memos he prefers ahead of in-person meetings. Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact. On his first three foreign trips, Tillerson skipped visits with State Department employees and their families, embassy stops that were standard morale-boosters under other secretaries of state.”

“Eight weeks into his tenure as President Trump’s top diplomat, the former ExxonMobil chief executive is isolated, walled off from the State Department’s corps of bureaucrats in Washington and around the world. His distant management style has created growing bewilderment among foreign officials who are struggling to understand where the United States stands on key issues. It has sown mistrust among career employees at State, who swap paranoid stories about Tillerson that often turn out to be untrue. And it threatens to undermine the power and reach of the State Department.”

Tillerson Denies ‘Fatigue’ Reports

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “denied reports in South Korean media outlets that he did not dine with the country’s officials due to ‘fatigue’ on a leg of his Asia trip,” Politico reports.

Said Tillerson: “They never invited us for dinner, then at the last minute they realized that optically it wasn’t playing very well in public for them, so they put out a statement that we didn’t have dinner because I was tired.”

Tillerson Hopes Avoiding Conflict Will Lead to Influence

“While he has swallowed a big budget cut, had his chosen deputy vetoed, and been dismissed as invisible in his own building, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is playing a patient game to gain influence by avoiding public conflicts with the White House,” Reuters reports.

“The former Exxon Mobil Corp CEO faces multiple challenges in his unfamiliar role as chief U.S. diplomat, including a boss in U.S. President Donald Trump who makes unpredictable policy pronouncements and does not take kindly to criticism or contradiction.”

The Weakest Secretary of State Ever

Foreign Policy: “While much of America’s political class is transfixed by the debate about connections between Russia and the White House, a quieter but perhaps more consequential drama is playing out at Foggy Bottom. It concerns the startling diminution of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and perhaps the entire department that he heads. Normally the most important position in the cabinet, the secretary of state has had little impact on the Trump administration so far. And, if anything, his role appears headed for further decline.”

Where’s Rex Tillerson?

“America’s chief diplomat so far appears allergic to the spotlight. His aloof approach to his job is eroding confidence in him at the State Department, multiple sources told Politico, where staffers are upset about President Donald Trump’s mixed foreign policy messages and his plans to significantly cut the agency’s budget.”

“Tillerson’s relative silence has been further compounded by the fact that the State Department’s traditional daily press briefing has been on hiatus since Trump took office.”

Tillerson Begins State Department Purge

CBS News: “While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, his aides laid off staff at the State Department on Thursday. Much of the seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told that their services were no longer needed.”

“These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.”

“There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats.”