State Department officials are denying that a plan has been engineered at the White House to push Secretary Rex Tillerson way out, as reported earlier Thursday by numerous media outlets, starting with The New York Times.
The newspaper said CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be Tillerson’s replacement at State, and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton would replace Pompeo at the agency. Both men are aggressive war hawks. The news—which has been rumored for the past seven weeks in articles like this and this—sparked numerous stories and commentaries in traditional media and blogs, including Daily Kos.
But the State Department denies it. The White House press secretary denies it. Jim Mattis denies it (sort of). Here are Julian Borger and David Smith at The Guardian:
According to the New York Times, the first to report an impending departure, the plan was being put together by the White House chief of staff, John Kelly.
But state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Kelly had called after the news reports broke and insisted they were false. “What I can tell you is that chief of staff Kelly called our department this morning and said that the rumours are not true, that those reports are not true. That is what I’ve been told,’ Nauert said. […]
Tillerson met defence secretary James Mattis, his closest ally in the administration, early on Thursday morning, the state department said. Later in the day, Mattis was asked what he makes of reports of Tillerson leaving.
Mattis replies: “I make nothing of it, there’s nothing to it.”
Josh Marshall at TPM writes:
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