The White House on Thursday denied reports that Chief of Staff John Kelly has developed a plan to push Secretary of State Rex Tillerson out of his role and replace him with CIA director Mike Pompeo. According to The New York Times, President Trump would then pick Cotton—that’s Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas—to replace Pompeo at the CIA. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the reports but refused to say whether Trump has confidence in Tillerson. At the White House, Trump did little to quell speculation over Tillerson’s future after briefly answering reporters’ questions during a photo op with Bahrain’s crown prince.
Reporter: “Do you want Rex Tillerson on the job, Mr. President?”
President Donald Trump: “He’s here. Rex is here.”
Reporter: “He’s here. Do you want him to stay in his job?”
President Donald Trump: “Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.”
More than 100 senior Foreign Service officers have left the State Department since President Trump took office, in what appears to be a forced exodus carried out by Secretary of State Tillerson. We’ll have more on the chaos at the State Department after headlines with national security reporter Marcy Wheeler.