It has long been rumored that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not a happy camper. According to reports, he has repeatedly sent back to the White House lists of candidates for key jobs in State and, likewise, the White House has sent back as unacceptable Tillerson’s proposed candidates. The upshot is that most of the political positions in State, both those requiring Senate confirmation and those at the next tier, are vacant.
Back in July, CNN carried this report:
Tillerson has a growing list of differences with the White House, including a new debate over Iran policy and personnel. His frustration is hardly a secret and it has spilled out publicly at times. But friends sense a change of late.
For weeks, conversations with Tillerson friends outside of Washington have left the impression that he, despite his frustrations, was determined to stay on the job at least through the end of the year. That would allow time to continue efforts to reorganize the State Department and would mean he could claim to have put in a year as America’s top diplomat.
But two sources who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity over the weekend said they would not be surprised if there was a “Rexit” from Foggy Bottom sooner that that.
Both of these sources are familiar with Tillerson conversations with friends outside Washington. Both said there was a noticeable increase in the secretary’s frustration and his doubts that the tug-of-war with the White House would subside anytime soon. They also acknowledged it could have been venting after a tough week, a suggestion several DC-based sources made when asked if they saw evidence Tillerson was looking for an exit strategy.
Generally, I take these middle school girls rumor games with a grain of salt. But this time it seems like that the story may be real.
The real break point took place on Fox News Sunday
WALLACE: And when the president gets into the kind of controversy he does and the U.N. committee response the way it does, it seems to say they begin to doubt are — whether we’re living those values.
TILLERSON: I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.
WALLACE: And the presidents values?
TILLERSON: The president speaks for himself, Chris.
WALLACE: Are you separating yourself from that, sir?
TILLERSON: I’ve spoken – I’ve made my own comments as to our vales as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week.
This is spoken like a man who is saying he has exactly zero f***s left to give.
Going out in a limb here but I don't think Rex gives a damn anymore what the President & White House thinks of him.https://t.co/AYbOQ6gaKn
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) August 28, 2017
The rumor du jour, via Axios, is that a domino arrangement is in the works:
As of last night, we were told that no replacement of SecState Rex Tillerson is imminent. But some switcheroo may happen sooner than expected, given the jaw-dropping reporting by Axios’ Jonathan Swan last evening in his weekly Sneak Peek newsletter:
Trump is getting more and more fed up with Tillerson and recently said: “Rex just doesn’t get it, he’s totally establishment in his thinking.”
One possible scenario for replacing Tillerson: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley moves to Foggy Bottom. Then Deputy Secretary National Security Adviser Dina Powell could be promoted to Haley’s job in New York, where Powell’s family lives.
Trump is scheduled to have lunch with Tillerson today. We’ll see what happens.