President Donald Trump dismissed reports that Rex Tillerson is on his way out of the administration, saying Friday that he and the secretary of state “work well together.”
The New York Times and other outlets reported earlier this week that Tillerson would soon be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, whose own position would then be filled by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly signed off on the plan, according to the stories, after it was pushed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has clashed with Tillerson on numerous occasions.
Trump slammed those reports with his favorite refrain, calling speculation about Tillerson’s impending dismissal “fake news.”
“The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon – FAKE NEWS!” the president tweeted Friday. “He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!”
The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon – FAKE NEWS! He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!https://t.co/FrqiPLFJ1E
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
As if to reinforce his commitment to his secretary of state, Trump linked to a White House Instagram picture of Tillerson reciting the oath of office.
Trump’s pronouncement capped another tumultuous week for Tillerson, whose relationship with the White House has been the subject of rampant gossip since October, when it was reported that he called Trump a “moron” during a meeting earlier in the year. Even before then, Tillerson had found himself at odds with the White House over a host of key issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and diplomatic talks with North Korea.
Trump acknowledged as much on Friday, noting that he and Tillerson don’t see eye to eye on certain subjects. After a series of non-denials from White House officials that Tillerson would soon be asked to leave, Trump publicly rejected the idea out of hand.
It has been business as usual for the former ExxonMobil CEO throughout the latest round of speculation about his job prospects. Appearing at the White House on Friday alongside with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Tillerson called reports of his firing “laughable.”
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