White House wanted to publicly shame Tillerson, source says

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Earlier this year, Tillerson denied an NBC News report that top Trump administration officials, including Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTop US automakers warn Pence: NAFTA proposal could hurt industry Flipping Michael Flynn: The real and imagined damage of a Mueller deal Preet Bharara: Helping Mueller probe might be only "sane" move for Flynn MORE, had urged him not to step down from the State Department.

Relations between President Trump and the senior member of his Cabinet - the former CEO of Exxon Mobil - have been strained nearly from the start.

The newspaper quoted unnamed senior administration officials as saying Trump had soured on Tillerson and was ready for a change at the State Department, probably around the end of the year.

"He's here. Rex is here", Trump said in the Oval Office when asked if he wants Tillerson to remain in his job. And the plan is not just being considered at the staff level, but by the President himself, the source said.

If Trump went with Pompeo, he would tap a former Army armor officer and Harvard Law School graduate who was in his fourth term representing a Kansas district in Congress when he was chosen to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, where officials say he has enjoyed a less hostile relationship with career spies than Tillerson has had with career diplomats.

Tillerson's aloof management style and cost-saving plan to restructure the State Department, including slashing around 2,000 positions, has not helped his popularity. The secretary was reported to have privately called Mr. Trump a "moron" and the president publicly criticized Mr. Tillerson for "wasting his time" with a diplomatic outreach to North Korea. The president was here today with the secretary of state.


White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says there are "no personnel announcements at this time".

If carried out, the staff changes would be the latest in a string of firings or resignations in the Trump administration including the departures of the chief of staff, national security adviser and Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

That's according to two administration officials.

Tillerson joined Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in pressing Trump not to pull the United States out of an agreement with Iran and world powers over Tehran's nuclear capabilities.

Tensions have also run high between Tillerson and veteran diplomats who oppose his proposed staff and budget cuts.

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