The White House Chief of Staff John Kelly telephoned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday to tell him "the rumors are not true" about his possible dismissal, the State Department said. Pompeo is reportedly much closer to President Trump and has a good relationship with the President, unlike Tillerson, who has appeared to distance himself from Trump on a number of occasions.
Perhaps more damaging for his internal prospects, though, was a report in October that Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" at one point in the summer - a report Tillerson has conspicuously never denied.
In 10 months as America's chief diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has found no world leader a greater challenge than the President of the United States.
When asked about reports, Mr Trump declined to say whether he wanted Mr Tillerson to remain in the job. But the Arkansas Secretary of State's office raised questions about that clause, noting that US Constitution may offer a conflicting view that could override the state statute. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Tillerson "is here" and there are "no personnel announcements to be made at this time".
If the plan to oust Tillerson is carried out, it would be the first time in more than 100 years that a top diplomat has left the post in such a short time without a change in administrations.
"If the president undercuts what he is trying to achieve diplomatically, convinces people that whatever you agree to with the secretary of state will be overturned by the president ... then he is basically neutered", said Richard Boucher, a former top USA diplomat who now teaches at Brown University. On several occasions, the president publicly undercut his diplomatic initiatives.
Indications are that Pompeo's departure from the Central Intelligence Agency would be followed by Sen.
At a private dinner of foreign policy veterans last month, a senior White House official criticized Tillerson for failing to support the president's agenda, according to a person familiar with the matter. The senator has advised Trump on issues like the Iran nuclear deal and immigration.
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