Trump ducks question on Tillerson’s future at State: ‘Rex is here’

President Trump on Thursday ducked questions about whether he is preparing to force Rex Tillerson out as secretary of State. 
“He’s here. Rex is here,” Trump told reporters who asked if he still wants Tillerson on the job.

The president spoke during an Oval Office meeting with the crown prince of Bahrain. 
Tillerson was not in the room for the meeting, but one reporter said he was at the White House minutes before the president spoke.
“There are no personnel announcements at this time,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Secretary Tillerson continues to lead the State Department.”
Trump’s comments are unlikely to quell speculation about the embattled secretary of State’s future in the administration. 
Multiple news outlets reported Thursday the White House has hatched a plan to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. 
Pompeo has become one of the most loyal members of the Trump administration, forming a close bond with the president by frequently delivering his daily intelligence briefing. 
The plan, which was first reported by The New York Times, is expected to be put into place over the next several weeks. It is said to have been developed by White House chief of staff John Kelly and has broad support among Trump’s inner circle.
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) would replace Pompeo at the top intelligence agency. The 40-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran is a staunch Trump ally and has publicly defended the president’s foreign policy approach. 
Tillerson’s relationship with Trump has been fraught with tensions for months and his departure from Foggy Bottom has widely been expected. 
The two men have had public disagreements to the administration’s approach to North Korea and China.
Rumors have swirled for weeks that Pompeo is Trump’s frontrunner to serve as the nation’s next top diplomat. 
The Trump-Tillerson relationship appeared to reach a low point last month, when NBC News reported the secretary of State called the president a “moron” behind his back. The State Department later denied the report.
Trump responded by offering to compare IQ scores with Tillerson. 
–This report was updated at 12:21 p.m.
Tags Donald Trump John Kelly Mike Pompeo Mike Pompeo Rex Tillerson Rex Tillerson secretary of State Tom Cotton United States Department of State
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