White House plans Tillerson ouster from State Dept., to be replaced by Pompeo
By PETER BAKER and MAGGIE HABERMAN
WASHINGTON — The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, perhaps within the next several weeks, senior administration officials said on Thursday.
Pompeo would be replaced at the C.I.A. by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas who has been a key ally of the president on national security matters, according to the White House plan. Mr. Cotton has signaled that he would accept the job if offered, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations before decisions are announced.
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. Tillerson was at the White House on Thursday morning, although he was not listed on the White House public schedule.
Asked by reporters if he wanted Tillerson to stay on the job on Thursday, Mr. Trump said only, “He’s here. Rex is here.”
John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, developed the transition plan and has discussed it with other officials. Under his plan, the shake-up of the national security team would happen around the end of the year or shortly afterward. But for all of his public combativeness, Trump is notoriously reluctant to fire people, and it was not known if Tillerson had agreed to step down by then. Public disclosure of Kelly’s transition plan may be meant as a signal to the secretary that it is time to go.
At the same time, there was some concern in the White House about the appearance of a rush to […]