Trump plans to replace Tillerson with Pompeo

Tom Cotton and Trump

News media reports, first published by the New York Times, that Trump has a plan to replace his embattled secretary of state with Pompeo, a former USA congressman who now heads the Central Intelligence Agency, drew mixed reviews from serving us officials.

Asked about Tillerson, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the secretary of state remained in his post.

His slow approach to filling diplomatic openings at the State Department is also a factor, another official said. He retweeted a series of anti-Muslim videos from a British far-right account. It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Trump has given final approval to the plan, but he has been said to have soured on Mr. Tillerson and in general is ready to make a change at the State Department.

While the changeup would make another cabinet member leaving or being replaced in less than a year of Trump's presidency, Secretary of Defense James Mattis - who is number six behind number four, Tillerson, in the line of succession - said Thursday afternoon he is not anxious about such a change.

Mr. Trump has been publicly frustrated with his top diplomat.

The White House insists no change is imminent. Arkansas Secretary of State spokesman Chris Powell says if the seat is left vacant, Governor Asa Hutchinson would be charged with appointing an interim Senator.

"There's so much churn".

Mr Tillerson would be replaced with Mike Pompeo, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Cotton's first-term as a U.S. Senator runs through 2020.


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

Current and former officials said Pompeo was likely to get along better with Congress and with the White House, not least because of his conservative bent.

When Tillerson in June called on Arab nations to ease their blockade on Qatar, Trump emerged in the Rose Garden hours later to lambaste Qatar for funding terrorism.

"There's been a Tillerson death watch since the spring", said Derek Chollet, a former State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council official in the Obama administration.

"There has never been a consideration in my mind to leave", Tillerson said.

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

His tenure has coincided with the departure of dozens of veteran foreign policy hands, and numerous State Department's senior policymaking positions remain unfilled.

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