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White House may replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA’s Mike Pompeo

The White House is discussing a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo.

world Updated: Dec 01, 2017 07:07 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
White House,Rex Tillerson,Mike Pompeo
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson poses with Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (not shown) ahead of a bilateral at the State Department in Washington, DC on November 30, 2017. (AFP Photo)

The White House plans to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA chief Mike Pompeo by the end of the year, according to multiple news reports citing unidentified officials.

And Pompeo could be replaced by Republican senator from Arkansas Tom Cotton, a strong ally of the president in the senate.

President Donald Trump has long been unhappy with Tillerson , with whom he has publicly disagreed on many crucial foreign policy issues, including on North Korea.

Asked by reporters about these plans, Trump only said, “He’s here. Rex is here.”

White House press secretary said, “There are no personnel announcements at this time,” she said. “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.”

Tillerson’s departure has been a matter of speculation for a long time and at one stage the president was said to be in favor of replacing him with Nikki Haley, the Indian-American US ambassador to the United Nations.

But the President is now said to be favouring Pompeo, a three-term member of the House of Representatives, who has emerged as key and trusted ally advising the president, The New York Times has said, on issues beyond the purview of CIA, such as healthcare.

It wasn’t clear from the news reports if the president had signed off on the plan that is said to have been put together by his chief of staff John Kelly. But he is also known to be reluctant to fire people despite feuding with them, a good example is Jeff Sessions, the attorney general whom he has belittled and criticised in posts on Twitter.

Tillerson’s departure will end a turbulent stint at the state department, where he ended up as a surprise choice. A long-time CEO of ExxonMobil, he had no foreign policy experience and failed to win allies and friends at the department which remains in a state of flux, hit by exits and woefully on personnel.

Tillerson also annoyed the president reportedly calling him a “moron”, which, it was noted, he never denied forcefully enough, though the state department did, saying he never uses such words.

First Published: Nov 30, 2017 21:36 IST