REPORT: CIA Chief to Replace Tillerson at State?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pauses while speaking to State Department employees, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pauses while speaking to State Department employees, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pauses while speaking to State Department employees, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

With the relationship between President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson more strained an ever, naturally, talk of Tillerson resigning/being fired is ramping up.

What is always interesting about these stories, however, is the talk of who will replace these ousted ex-Trump employees. Currently, Axios is reporting on a potential shake-up and shuffle of key members of the Trump Administration:

Trump advisers and allies are floating the idea of replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, age 53 — someone who’s already around the table in the Situation Room, and could make the switch without chaos.

  • We’re told that Trump is quite comfortable with Pompeo, asking his advice on topics from immigration to the inner workings of Congress.
  • Pompeo personally delivers the President’s Daily Brief, making him one of the few people Trump spends a great deal of time with on a daily basis.
  • Pompeo is one of the few in the administration who knows how to convey tough news to the president, and how to push back without turning DJT off. (SecDef Mattis is good at that, too.)
  • Trump doesn’t see Pompeo as a showboat.

While I’m not sure how smart it is to move the CIA Director over to the State Department, at least we know what we’re getting with Pompeo. Tillerson, according to Axios’ same sources, just isn’t going to make it.

Sources tell us Trump recognizes that a Cabinet shuffle would bring bad press. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly wants stability, and so is discouraging high-level departures before next year.

And yet, insiders say Trump’s relationship with Tillerson is broken beyond repair. We’re told Trump was furious that Tillerson didn’t try to blunt the story about him calling the president a “moron,” by just going out and denying it (whether or not it actually occurred).

Trump is a guy who wants to avoid bad press because it promotes the idea of weakness in him personally. That’s why he’s so quick to push back on negative press coverage. But, if he’s considering this despite bad press coverage, then I think it’s a lot more likely than Tillerson might let on that he’s out the door.

Trump can do much worse than Pompeo, and the constant undercutting between Tillerson and Trump is quite tedious to sit through. But, it’s a question over whether or not Trump can afford the instability a shakeup would cause. Sure, it seems like a fool’s errand for Kelly to try to keep some semblance of stability, but it’s difficult to argue that since he took over, Trump is having fewer bad days and shorter bad cycles.

I don’t know if Tillerson should quit or be fired. I wouldn’t want to suffer under Trump, but I suppose it just comes down to personal sanity and sense of duty.