White House plans to replace Tillerson with CIA head - reports

‘New York Times’ says Mike Pompeo lined up as new secretary of state, citing senior officials

 

The White House has developed a plan to replace secretary of state Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, within weeks, a senior official said on Thursday.

Under the plan, Republican senator Tom Cotton would be tapped to replace Mr Pompeo at the CIA, the New York Times reported, citing senior officials.

The Times, the first to report the plan, said it was not immediately clear whether president Donald Trump had given final approval to the shake-up.

Mr Tillerson’s departure would end a troubled tenure for the former Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive who has found himself increasingly at odds with Mr Trump over policy challenges such as North Korea and under fire for his planned cuts at the state department.

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, developed the transition plan and has discussed it with other officials, the Times reported. Under his plan, the staff reshuffle would happen around the end of the year or shortly afterward.

Mr Tillerson’s departure has been widely rumoured for months, with attention focused on Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, as his likely replacement.

But Mr Pompeo, a former three-term member of Congress, has increasingly moved to the forefront as he has gained Mr Trump’s trust on national security matters. – Reuters