Mattis: There's 'nothing' to reports of Tillerson leaving

Mattis: There's 'nothing' to reports of Tillerson leaving
© Getty

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisGOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote Overnight Defense: Senate moves toward vote on bill ending support for Saudi war | House GOP blocks Yemen war votes for rest of year | Trump throws uncertainty into Pentagon budget | Key Dem to leave transgender troop ban to courts Armed Services chairman bought, dropped defense stock MORE on Thursday brushed aside reports that President Trump is considering replacing Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonAxelrod: Trump's Tillerson insults 'continue a disturbing portrait' Overnight Defense: Nauert tapped for UN envoy | Trump teases changes to Joint Chiefs of Staff | Trump knocks Tillerson as 'dumb as a rock' | Scathing report details Air Force failures before Texas shooting Trump: Tillerson 'dumb as a rock' MORE.

“I make nothing of it, there's nothing to it,” Mattis said in response to a reporter’s question on his response to reports that Tillerson is soon to step down.

ADVERTISEMENT

Multiple news outlets reported Thursday the White House was working on a plan to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — Officials warn of threat from Chinese spying | China blamed for Marriott hack | Trump open to intervening in Huawei case | FCC mulls ending merger ban on 'Big Four' networks | California floats tax on texts Russia plans to pull bombers from Venezuela on Friday, White House says MORE.

The White House has rejected the report, as has State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who said Thursday that White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE called Tillerson to tell him the story was false.

But press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday refused to say whether Trump has confidence in Tillerson.

“When the president loses confidence in someone, they will no longer serve in the capacity that they're in,” Sanders said.

Speaking at the beginning of a meeting with the Libyan prime minister at the Pentagon, Mattis also rejected the idea that diplomacy with North Korea had not worked given the isolated country’s missile launch earlier this week.

“I am not willing to say that diplomacy has not worked. We will continue to work diplomatically, we will continue to work through the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council, and we will be unrelenting in that,” Mattis told reporters.

“At the same time, our diplomats will speak from a position of strength because we do have military options," he continued.

Following North Korea's launch, Trump said the missile test would not alter the administration’s strategy to rein in Pyongyang. Tillerson, meanwhile, said diplomatic options “remain viable and open, for now.”