July 27, 2017

Is Tillerson on His Way Out?

With tensions only growing between the White House and State Department, rumors have begun to swirl.

The State Department is still filled with Barack Obama lackeys, and their presence has been steadily increasing tensions with Donald Trump’s White House. How bad is it? The Washington Free Beacon reports that the State Department is in “open war” with the West Wing. Now there are rumors that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is looking to resign. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert denied the rumors, stating, “We have spoken with the secretary. The secretary has been very clear he intends to stay here at the State Department. We have a lot of work that is left to be done ahead of us. He recognizes that. He’s deeply engaged in that work.”

A key source of the tension between the State Department and the White House is the fact that Trump hasn’t been able to get his own people in place. A veteran foreign policy analyst with knowledge of the situation said, “Foggy Bottom is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda. Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.”

Others familiar with the situation have blamed Tillerson and Obama holdovers for the escalated tensions. The White House has sent lists of candidates they’ve chosen to fill vacated State Department positions only to have those lists ignored. This suggests a willful disregard for Trump’s agenda.

With this much antagonism coming from State, might Trump be contemplating dismissing Tillerson? If the president’s public criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a prelude to his removal, then he may have decided to live with Tillerson for the time being. Still, an argument can be made that Tillerson has caused bigger problems for Trump than anything Sessions has done. As one Republican insider put it, “Tillerson should have spent time and effort working to help the president undo the Iran deal. Instead, he’s apparently spending time and effort trying to prevent the president from undoing the Iran deal. And in the meantime he’s elevated … Stuart Jones to a position of influence in the building — a guy who was perfect for the job in the Obama administration.”

But if we’ve learned anything about Trump, it’s that he’s both unconventional and unafraid to rock the boat. Would it shock anyone to see him let both Sessions and Tillerson go in the same week?

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