Trump: Rumors of looming staff shake-up ‘exaggerated and false’

President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE on Thursday insisted that media reports about an imminent White House staff shake-up are “false” and “exaggerated.”

Trump shocked Washington earlier this week with his abrupt dismissal of Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHouse passes legislation to elevate cybersecurity at the State Department Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet With salami-slicing and swarming tactics, China's aggression continues MORE, provoking speculation that he could be looking to clean house among those Cabinet members and senior officials who have disappointed him.


But in remarks to reporters in the Oval Office, the president insisted that rumors of a staffing overhaul had been overblown by the media.

"It was a very false story," Trump said. "A very exaggerated and false story."

Still, Trump acknowledged that “there will always be change.”

Trump has tapped CIA Director Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory MORE to replace Tillerson at State and has nominated Gina Haspel, the CIA's deputy director, to become the first woman to run the spy agency.

“We made a wonderful change, I think Mike Pompeo is going to be an incredible secretary of State," Trump said. "We have some wonderful ideas.”

The president has also named economist and television personality Larry Kudlow to replace outgoing economic adviser Gary Cohn, who resigned from the White House after disagreeing with the president's steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

“I want to also see different ideas," Trump said. "Larry Kudlow just came in a little while ago and I think Larry is going to be outstanding as economic adviser.”

Kudlow is an opinions contributor for The Hill.

These moves come at a time of staff upheaval in the West Wing.

Communications director Hope HicksHope HicksUPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause Trump selects Hicks, Bondi, Grenell and other allies for positions Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tests positive for coronavirus MORE, who had been with Trump from the start of his campaign, is leaving, as are several other senior spokespeople and aides.

Several White House staffers have been forced out for failing background checks as part of the national security clearances process.

Those moves came after controversy exploded around chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE's handling of a senior aide who had access to sensitive information despite the FBI having flagged abuse allegations from his former wives.

Some of Trump’s allies are hopeful he’ll use the momentum from Tillerson’s ouster to get rid of others he’s been frustrated with.

Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinBiden's nominee for VA secretary isn't a veteran — does it matter? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress slogs toward COVID-19 relief, omnibus deal A crisis that unites veterans MORE and national security adviser H.R. McMaster have both been rumored to be on thin ice. Trump has also publicly expressed frustration with Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsEx-Sen. Doug Jones joins law and lobbying firm Arent Fox Former Barr spokesperson at DOJ hired to be Fox News Washington editor Biden should call for Article I immigration courts MORE, blaming him for the existence of a special counsel that has been investigating the campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

And Kelly’s standing at the White House has taken a hit following the controversy over security clearances.

Trump last week noted that he’s only been in Washington for a year and that he’s still meeting new people who could be helpful to him.

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of people over the last year,” he said. “I’ve been in Washington for a little over a year, whereas some people have been here 30, 40 years, I’ve gotten to know people so there will always be change but very little … but there will always be change. And I think you want to see change.”

Earlier this month, Trump claimed there is “no chaos” in the White House, but warned of possible staff changes in the future.

“The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House. Wrong!” Trump tweeted on March 6.

“People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision. I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection). There is no Chaos, only great Energy!”