White House Says Tillerson Is 'Here,' For Now

White House Says Tillerson Is 'Here,' For Now

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talks to members of the media at the State Department in Washington, DC, U.S. on November 20, 2017. "When the president loses confidence in someone, they will no longer serve in the capacity that they're in", she said.

The nature of the reported change also suggests a change in the administration's focus, with Tillerson having, for instance, ruled out imposing regime change in North Korea, while Pompeo, said to be a Trump favorite recently, has openly advocated it. They were not authorized to publicly discuss internal thinking and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"He's here. Rex is here", Trump offered, noting that Tillerson was in the building - but not in the room - at the time.

Tillerson's likely ouster loomed awkwardly over an Oval Office meeting Thursday between Trump and the visiting Bahraini crown prince.

Nauert says Tillerson is "going about his business" and will travel to Europe on an official trip starting Monday.




"He's here. Rex is here", he said. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Tillerson "is here" and there are "no personnel announcements to be made at this time".

But others argued that any new secretary of state would face the same obstacles as Tillerson, who was undercut this year when Trump told his chief diplomat to stop "wasting his time" trying to negotiate with North Korea. Both Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward are under consideration for that post. That's after reports that he might be picked to run the Central Intelligence Agency in a major shake-up of President Donald Trump's national security team. He's a 40-year-old Army veteran who was first elected to the Senate in 2014, and has been viewed as a rising star in the GOP. Axios's Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan reported last month that Pompeo's stock was rising in the White House and that he was a leading contender to replace Tillerson.

That's according to two administration officials. But the timing of such a change is unclear.

"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.

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