Sources Float Name of Possible Replacement for Tillerson
CIA Director Mike Pompeo, as Trump's rift with current secretary of state reportedly deepens
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2017 12:30 PM CDT
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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks on as President Trump speaks at a luncheon at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2017, in New York.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – It's been a tumultuous week on the Tillerson-Trump front, with the secretary of state forced to hold a presser to address rumors he'd once nearly resigned (he denied that) and that he'd called the president a moron (he didn't say either way, though a spokeswoman later denied it for him). Some say his remarks only worsened things between him and Trump, and whispers continue to point in a southerly direction. Sources tell NBC News that before his trip to pay his respects to the Las Vegas shooting victims, Trump "fumed" and vented to chief of staff John Kelly for two hours after seeing the NBC report early Wednesday about Tillerson's alleged comments. Those sources also reveal Kelly postponed travel plans that day to "try to contain his boss's fury," meeting quietly with Tillerson and defense chief James Mattis to try to figure out a blueprint for going forward.

When Tillerson didn't deny at the presser he'd called the president a moron, Trump was said to be further angered. Sources also tell CNN Trump had known about the insult before the NBC report, but was infuriated it had leaked. Axios reports what may come next: a new secretary of state in the form of CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Trump advisors are said to be mulling this idea, though sources say Trump knows another top-level person leaving his administration at this point will get bad press. Axios adds Pompeo could likely "make the switch without chaos"—he's a person Trump trusts—and that sources do think the Tillerson-Trump relationship is too "toxic" to fix. Esquire notes Trump's cryptic "calm before the storm" comment made Thursday during a gathering of military bigwigs may have been a reference to Tillerson's farewell, though it also could have meant almost anything else as well.

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