White House officials have shared to media that there is a plan being discussed to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
The information came from two administration officials. They were not given the go signal to publicly discuss such an internal matter, and as such gave the information to media on condition of anonymity.
U.S. officials and individuals familiar with the White House plan and dynamics have been talking about the prospect of a broad shakeup in President Trump’s national security team. As to when such will actually take place is unclear, however.
It is not yet clear if Tillerson’s post has been offered to Pompeo or if he has been informed of the planned Cabinet reshuffle. Another administration official said, however, that Pompeo is open to getting Tillerson’s job.
It is also not clear what fate awaits Tillerson should he be replaced by Pompeo, whether he’s on his way out for good in the entire Trump administration, or if he would merely be transferred somewhere else.
A senior administration official who had the chance to speak with Tillerson recently says the former Exxon Mobil CEO felt secure in his position. The official shares that Tillerson was focused on his State Department reorganization and other diplomacy matters.
Tillerson’s stepping down from his post is expected to take place in January. There are talks that President Trump and Tillerson are not seeing eye to eye on important matters.
Fox News reported that the most likely succession plan would see Pompeo moving to the State Department and nominating Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton to lead the CIA.
Trump has not verbally criticized Tillerson’s performance as Secretary of State thus far, but he has been suggesting on social media for Tillerson to be tougher on the international stage. He took to Twitter last month to state that Tillerson was “wasting his time” with the diplomatic campaign to urge North Korea toward denuclearization."
Trump tweeted then: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man. Save your energy, Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
Pompeo, on the other hand, seems to be in agreement with Trump as far as the North Korea issue is concerned. The CIA director even praised Trump in August for his tough rhetoric against Kim’s rogue regime and for “uniting the world” in trying to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
Politico reported that Pompeo has been seen on an almost daily basis at the White House last summer, claiming that he even set up a temporary office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the street.