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

Mattis: There's 'nothing' to reports of Tillerson leaving
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Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisAllies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump Congress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Trump nominates ambassador to Turkey MORE on Thursday brushed aside reports that President Trump is considering replacing Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job Trump administration’s top European diplomat to resign in February Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation 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.

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Multiple news outlets reported Thursday the White House was working on a plan to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump administration combining Palestinian mission, Israeli embassy next month: report The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration 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.”