Reported plans to fire Tillerson roil State Department

Reported plans to fire Tillerson roil State Department

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly developed the plan to replace Tillerson, the report said, which involves nominating Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

"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 US diplomat who now teaches at Brown University.

It is exceedingly rare for a secretary of state, America's face on the global stage, to be fired or to serve for a year or less. Too much churn could fuel the perception of chaos in the Trump White House - perhaps one reason he has yet to pull the trigger.

Asked on Thursday if he wanted Tillerson to stay, Trump sidestepped the question saying: "He's here".

"He's here. Rex is here", Trump said in the Oval Office when asked if he wants Tillerson to remain in his job.

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"He's here. Rex is here", the president said.

Multiple reports in the past have cited tensions between Trump and Tillerson.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says there are "no personnel announcements at this time". On several occasions, the president publicly undercut his diplomatic initiatives.

The Times, the first to report the plan, said it was not immediately clear whether President Donald Trump had given final approval to the shakeup. The former Exxon Mobil CEO has been widely criticized as a bizarrely disconnected manager who has failed to effectively govern the department.

A State Department staffer told Vanity Fair he wasn't sure about the rumors, but he welcomed the plan. He's been a supporter of President Trump.

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Tillerson has at times put distance between himself and Trump's positions.

Tillerson has taken a more hawkish view than Trump on Russian Federation and tried to mediate a dispute among key U.S. Mideast allies, after four Arab nations launched a boycott of Qatar, alleging Islamist extremist ties. Trump also deemed diplomacy with North Korea a waste of time, when Tillerson was pursuing just that.

The former ExxonMobil executive has also defended the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump last month disavowed.

Pompeo, by contrast, is viewed as a trustworthy and effective loyalist by Trump and his team.

As a member of Congress, she noted, Pompeo represented Wichita, Kansas, where Koch Industries is based, has been called the "Koch Brothers' favorite congressman". He shares the president's hardline stance against Iran.

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