Rex Tillerson

Trump Wants Pompeo to Replace Tillerson

President Trump “has turned his daily intelligence briefing — a routine that in previous administrations has been a dry, formal affair — into a free-flowing conversation during which he peppers his CIA director, former House member Mike Pompeo, with questions about everything from national security threats to the internal dynamics of Congress,” Politico reports.

“The CIA director’s favored status in the West Wing has made him the odds-on choice to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, according to more than half a dozen administration officials and outside advisers familiar with the White House’s current plans. It’s not clear when Tillerson might leave — he has vigorously denied rumors that he plans to resign anytime soon — but Pompeo has told associates that he expects the president to tap him for the position and that he’d accept the job if it’s offered to him.”

Tillerson’s Power Play

“A leaked State Department document is alarming diplomats and others who say it shows the accumulation of power among a small and unaccountable group of senior aides to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The chart, obtained by Politico, illustrates the growing influence of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, which traditionally has served as an in-house think tank but which Tillerson heavily relies upon for day-to-day decision making.”

“Critics already complain that the office — led by Brian Hook, a powerful Tillerson aide not subject to Senate confirmation — accepts too little input from career diplomats, and the chart, which lays out a method to craft foreign policy, shows no explicit role for them. The chart appears to show a top-down approach in which ideas emanate from the secretary’s inner circle rather than bubbling up from diverse sources, including Foreign Service officers in the field.”

Tillerson Insists He’s Not Going Anywhere

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Wall Street Journal he was confused about rumors of his departure and said he would remain in the job “as long as the president thinks I’m useful.”

Said Tillerson: “Who in the world is telling you that stuff?”

When asked if Trump should be reelected, Tillerson “paused for a beat, then said, ‘Well, of course. … I mean, I don’t think about it, quite frankly, right now… We’ve got these things we’re dealing with, but yeah.'”

Corker Says Trump Is Trying to ‘Castrate’ Tillerson

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), “who publicly laid into Trump earlier this week on Twitter by saying the White House had become an ‘adult day care center,’ slammed the president by saying he was undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and creating scenarios in which the United States might be forced to choose between waging war on North Korea or Iran or allowing those countries to threaten the U.S. with nuclear weapons,” Politico reports.

Said Corker: “You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice.”

He added: “When you jack the legs out from under your chief diplomat, you cause all that to fall apart. Us working with Beijing effectively is the key to not getting to a binary choice. When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table.”

Pompeo Considered as Replacement for Tillerson

Mike Allen: “Trump advisers and allies are floating the idea of replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, age 53 — someone who’s already around the table in the Situation Room, and could make the switch without chaos.”

“We’re told that Trump is quite comfortable with Pompeo, asking his advice on topics from immigration to the inner workings of Congress. Pompeo personally delivers the President’s Daily Brief, making him one of the few people Trump spends a great deal of time with on a daily basis.”

“Sources tell us Trump recognizes that a Cabinet shuffle would bring bad press. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly wants stability, and so is discouraging high-level departures before next year. And yet, insiders say Trump’s relationship with Tillerson is broken beyond repair.”

Tillerson Rift with Trump May Be Too Wide

Washington Post: “The already tense relationship between the two headstrong men — one a billionaire former real estate developer, the other a former captain of the global oil industry — has ruptured into what some White House officials call an irreparable breach that will inevitably lead to Tillerson’s departure, whether immediately or not. Tillerson’s dwindling cohort of allies say he has been given an impossible job and is doing his best with it.”

“For months now, Trump has been piqued by rumors of disloyalty that have filtered up to him from Foggy Bottom, the home of the State Department… And as Tillerson has traveled the globe, Trump believes his top diplomat often seems more concerned with what the world thinks of the United States than with tending to the president’s personal image.”

“Meanwhile, Tillerson — who ran one of the world’s largest corporations with near-dictatorial control — has struggled to submit to the whims and wishes of a boss who governs by impulse.”

Tillerson Seems Safe for Now

Jonathan Swan: “While there’s plenty of speculation that Tillerson will resign or be fired by Trump, I’ve heard nothing from any senior officials to corroborate those rumors.”

Said one senior administration official: “I think his saving grace may be that Mattis and Kelly have his back and there’s not a great desire for further shuffling in the cabinet at this time.”

However: “Not denying he called the President of the United States a moron ends any chance of him being a credible representative of the administration around the world.”

Tillerson Denies He Threatened to Resign

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refuted a report that said he was on the verge of resigning from his Cabinet post over the summer, CBS News reports.

Said Tillerson: “I have never considered leaving this post.”

He did not address the claim in the report that he called President Trump a “moron.”

Update: Stephanie Ruhle stands by her report: “My source didn’t just say he called him a moron. He said he called him an fucking moron.”

Tillerson Nearly Resigned After Calling Trump a ‘Moron’

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House,” NBC News reports.

“The tensions came to a head around the time President Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led.”

“Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a ‘moron,’ after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials.”

“Pence has since spoken to Tillerson about being respectful of the president in meetings and in public, urging that any disagreements be sorted out privately… Yet the disputes have not abated. This weekend, tensions spilled out into the open once again when the president seemed to publicly chide Tillerson on his handling of the crisis with North Korea.”

Trump Undercuts Tillerson on North Korea

“President Trump signaled Sunday that he does not believe that attempts at direct communications with North Korea are worth the effort despite escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang,” the Washington Post reports.

“A day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested that the United States maintains ‘lines of communications’ with Kim Jong Un’s regime, Trump wrote on Twitter that Tillerson is ‘wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man’ — his nickname for Kim.”

How Rex Tillerson Has Alienated Almost Everyone

“The most challenging task in Washington, these days, is finding somebody who’ll enthusiastically endorse Rex Tillerson. In just nine months, the Secretary of State has managed to alienate nearly every constituency that matters,” Jonathan Swan reports.

Said a former top Bush administration official: “He’s got no support from the left on management and no support from the right on policy.”

“Tillerson alienated his natural constituency — moderates who view him as a restraining influence on Trump — by what he’s done, or failed to do, managerially at the State Department. He’s surrounded himself by a tiny circle and hasn’t sought much advice from outsiders. And he’s got no ideological constituency on the right because he doesn’t embrace the forward-leaning posture on human rights, or the aggressive stance on Russia, that Republicans typically expect of their top diplomats.”

Putin Says Tillerson Has ‘Fallen Into Bad Company’

Russian President Vladimir Putin joked that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had veered off the path of cooperation and “fallen into bad company,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“In recent weeks, Washington and Moscow have been engaged in a diplomatic tit-for-tat. Russia has ordered the culling of 755 staff members from the U.S. State Department’s Mission in Russia. Last week, the U.S. ordered the closure of Russia’s San Francisco consulate, a move Putin said this week he would instruct his foreign ministry to take up with the U.S. legal system.”

Said Putin: “I hope that the wind of cooperation, friendship and interaction will bring him to the right course in the end.”

Trump’s Frustration with Tillerson Grows

Jonathan Swan: “There’s a ticking problem with Rex Tillerson, and it’s growing louder by the day, according to officials inside and close to the White House.”

“President Trump has been growing increasingly frustrated with his Secretary of State. One time recently, after Trump had returned from a meeting on Afghanistan, a source recalled Trump saying, ‘Rex just doesn’t get it, he’s totally establishment in his thinking.'”

“Tillerson’s jaw-dropping comments on TV today will likely only worsen their relationship.”