White House 'talking about replacing' Rex Tillerson as US Secretary of State

The White House is discussing a plan to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA director Mike Pompeo in a major shake-up of President Donald Trump's national security team, two administration officials have said.

The move would put Mr Pompeo, a former congressman who has grown close to Mr Trump during his tenure at the top of the CIA, in charge of US diplomacy.

Former Exxon Mobil chief executive Mr Tillerson has had a rough first year characterised by tensions with the president in several foreign policy areas and negative publicity over Mr Tillerson's envisioned overhaul of the State Department.

US officials and other individuals familiar with White House thinking said the plan that has been mooted envisions Senator Tom Cotton as the most likely candidate to take over Mr Pompeo's job at the CIA. Mr Cotton's office would not comment other than to say: "Senator Cotton's focus is on serving Arkansans in the Senate."

It was not clear how quickly such a plan might be put in place, nor whether Mr Pompeo had been formally approached about it. A White House official said the timing remains unclear. The New York Times, which first reported the potential shake-up, said it was likely to happen within several weeks.

Several administration officials said Mr Pompeo has said in the past that he is open to taking the job.

Tillerson aides and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The White House started telling people in September that Mr Tillerson would be replaced, said a senior administration official.

By that point, some issues that needed to be signed off by the Secretary of State were being put off until after Mr Tillerson had gone, said the official.


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