If Trump wanted to fire Rex he'd be gone NOW says White House as it refuses to say if embattled secretary of state's job is safe in the future
- The White House had a plan that would allow President Trump to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the New York Times has learned?
- Chief of Staff John Kelly devised the plan that would have Trump replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo?
- Mike Pompeo, in turn, would be replaced by Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who sees eye to eye with Trump on national security issues?
- The White House pushed back on the report saying that if Trump had lost confidence in Tillerson he'd 'no longer be here'?
- Tillerson's time at the State Department has been memorably marked by him not denying that he called the president a 'moron' after a Pentagon meeting?
- Trump also publicly knocked Tillerson's strategy to deal with the North Koreans, while the secretary of state was in China talking about North Korea ?
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on his way out, arguing that if President Trump wanted him gone he'd already be fired.?
'When the president loses confidence in somebody, he'll no longer be here,' Huckabee Sanders said at the press briefing Thursday, giving a hazy response on whether Tillerson had an expiration date.?'I think his future right now is to continue working hard as the secretary of state, continue working with the president to carry out his agenda.'?
The White House has been forced to respond all day to a New York Times report?that ?the administration had articulated a secret plan, crafted by Chief of Staff John Kelly, to send Tillerson packing.
When President Trump was asked about it in the Oval Office Thursday morning he responded by saying, 'He's here, Rex is here,' pointing to the fact that Tillerson was at the White House then and later returned for another meeting.??
Huckabee Sanders made the same point from the podium Thursday afternoon.?
'The president was here today with the secretary of state,' she said. '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.' ?
Her end-of-year phrasing perked up reporters' ears in the room, as the Times report mentioned that the plot to remove Tillerson was to take place around the conclusion of 2017.?
Asked about Tillerson's job security once again, Huckabee Sanders showed her sarcastic side by explaining how a calendar works.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued Thursday that if President Trump wanted to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he's already be gone
The White House has come up with a plan for President Trump to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the New York Times reported Thursday
'Rex is here,' President Trump said when asked about the Times report. Tillerson was later seen leaving the White House?
Rex Tillerson would be replaced at the State Department by CIA Director Mike Pompeo (left), who would be replaced at Langley by Sen. Tom Cotton (right), an Arkansas Republican?
'We're all closing out the year, you guys are closing out the year at your news network, we don't set the calendar, that's something that happened a few centuries ago,' she began.?
'The year is going to end whether we like it or not, we're all going to close it out and we're all going to do the best job we can for the American people in that process,' the press secretary added.?
The Times said that Tillerson would be replaced by current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, according to unnamed senior administration officials.?
Then, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who sees eye to eye with Trump on national security, would get the top CIA gig. ???
Cotton, the officials told the paper, has said he would take over the CIA if asked.??
The White House initially responded by saying, ''There are no personnel announcements at this time.'
'Secretary Tillerson continues to lead the State Department and the entire cabinet is focused on completing this incredibly successful first year of President Trump's administration,' Huckabee Sanders added.
Additionally, according to CNN, Kelly phoned Tillerson Thursday to knock down the New York Times' reporting. ?
However, it's hard to deny that the relationship hasn't been rocky between the two men, who didn't know each other before the president tapped the former ExxonMobil CEO to be the nation's top diplomat.?
The two most dramatic incidents of the Tillerson and Trump working relationship both came in October.?
On October 1, while Tillerson was meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing, the president undercut his efforts with North Korea by closing the door, via Twitter, on talks.?
'I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,' Trump wrote. 'Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!'?
Tillerson had just told the international community that the U.S. had spoken with North Korea through direct channels, which was a revelation. ?
Whether President Trump will pull the trigger on the plan is still up in the air, but it's been apparently, publicly, that Trump and Rex Tillerson have had a rocky relationship in recent months
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's head is seen through the fall leaves as he leaves the White House complex on Thursday?
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was photographed leaving the White House Thursday, several hours after the New York Times broke a story that articulated a plan to oust him?
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert countered the narrative Thursday afternoon that Tillerson was miserable in the position
'We've made it clear that we hope to resolve this through talks,' the secretary of state had said at a press conference in Beijing.?
Those in the diplomatic community were largely shocked that a president would so directly step on the feet of his secretary of state.?
Several days later, NBC News had a report out that said Tillerson had labeled Trump a 'moron' after a Pentagon meeting – and had almost resigned after the president gave a politicized speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree.
Tillerson was a former leader of the Boy Scouts. ?
The article forced Tillerson to give an unscheduled public comment at the State Department in which he said, 'I have never considered leaving this post.'?
He pivoted when asked to address the 'moron' component of the story simply answering, 'I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that.'?
Later, during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Tillerson didn't deny he made the comment, again.?
'Jake, as I indicated earlier when I was asked about that, I'm not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff,' the secretary of state said. 'I mean, this is a town that seems to relish in gossip,?rumor and innuendo. And they feed on it. They feed on it in a very destructive way. I don't work that way and I don't feel that way.'?
Tapper also asked if Tillerson felt he'd been 'castrate[d],' a word used by Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, who criticized the president for getting in the secretary of state's way.??
'I checked,' he told Tapper. 'I'm fully intact.'?
Additionally, in a perceived slight to first daughter Ivanka Trump, one of her father's senior advisers, Tillerson didn't send top-tier State Department staff with her to India this week.?
Throughout his tenure, Tillerson made it known that he was reluctant to take the job, making a switch to government service after a highly successful career in the private sector.?
In March he recalled how his wife was the one who urged him to make the jump.?
'I didn't want this job. I didn't want this job,' Tillerson told the Independent Journal Review. 'My wife told I'm supposed to do this.' ??
In October, as he toured a park in Geneva, the secretary looked at a sculpture of a person in the fetal position.?
?'Some days I feel like I need to do that. Curl up in a ball,' he said.?
State Department spokeswoman Heather?Nauert countered the narrative Thursday afternoon that Tillerson was miserable in the position.?
'He remains, as I have been told, committed to doing this job, he does serve at the pleasure of the president, this is a job that he enjoys, he is continuing with his meeting, he is continuing with his calls,' Nauert said.?
Nauert also conceded that morale was low at the department, following a number of senior staff departures and Tillerson's reorganization efforts.?
'Sure,' she told reporters, 'there is a morale issue in this building.'?
'And that's why I say, you know, "Folks, hang in there. We have a lot of work to be done. Please don't give up. Don't give up on this building. Don't give up on what America is doing. Don't give up on the importance of this job and career.'" ??
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