The White House has developed a transition plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo within the next several weeks according to a questionable news report Thursday.
The New York Times report says that the president has soured on Tillerson and become increasingly impressed by Pompeo.
Mr. Pompeo, a former three-term member of Congress, has impressed Mr. Trump during daily intelligence briefings and become a trusted policy adviser even on issues far beyond the C.I.A.’s normal mandate, like health care.
Mr. Pompeo would be replaced at the C.I.A. by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas who has been a key ally of the president on national security matters, according to the White House plan. Mr. Cotton has signaled that he would accept the job if offered, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations before decisions are announced.
While associates of Tillerson have said that Tillerson is intent on finishing out the year, mainstream media reports of shake-ups in the Trump administration have often proved incorrect. Some anonymously-sourced reports, such as the NYT article referenced above, have been seen as deep-state rumors intent upon creating rifts in the White House.
State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday afternoon that White House Chief-0f-staff John Kelly called them Thursday morning to tell them that the reports of a plan to replace Tillerson were “not true.”
Cotton’s replacement would be appointed by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) and would serve until the 2018 election. Cotton’s current term was set to end in 2020.
update: The article was updated to add Ms. Nuaert’s comments