President Donald Trump brushed aside reports Thursday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s exit is imminent.
“He’s here. Rex is here,” Trump said in the Oval Office when asked if he wants Tillerson to remain in his job.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later told reporters: “As the President just said, ‘Rex is here.’ 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.”
The New York Times reported Thursday that chief of staff John Kelly has drawn up a plan to replace Tillerson in a matter of weeks with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo. The report said that Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton would then be appointed to lead the CIA.
Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has had a testy relationship with President Trump at times. The secretary of state reportedly called Trump a “moron,” a charge Tillerson never denied. Trump also once tweeted that Tillerson was “wasting his time” on diplomatic efforts with North Korea.