White House considering major shake-up of Trump's national security team

Saul Bowman
December 1, 2017

The report said White House Chief of Staff was promoting the plan as a result of major policy differences between President Trump and Secretary Tillerson on issues such as the Iran nuclear deal, the crisis between Qatar and its' neighbors, and the nuclear threat from North Korea. Pompeo is reportedly much closer to President Trump and has a good relationship with the President, unlike Tillerson, who has appeared to distance himself from Trump on a number of occasions.

While the changeup would make another cabinet member leaving or being replaced in less than a year of Trump's presidency, Secretary of Defense James Mattis - who is number six behind number four, Tillerson, in the line of succession - said Thursday afternoon he is not anxious about such a change.

But he still would suffer from problems that have afflicted Tillerson, chief among them a boss who has shown little regard for diplomacy and no qualms about undermining his secretary of state with tweets, current and former USA officials said.

Trump has soured on Tillerson mostly because of the "moron" report, his less confrontational approach on North Korea and differences over the Qatar crisis, one senior USA official said.

A source familiar with Tillerson's thinking said the secretary of state's original plan when he took the job was to leave in February.

It was not clear Thursday whether the president had given final approval to the reported cabinet changes. "And I can tell you who is going to win".


Tillerson's aloof management style and cost-saving plan to restructure the State Department, including slashing around 2,000 positions, has not helped his popularity.

If carried out, the staff changes would be the latest in a string of firings or resignations in the Trump administration including the departures of the chief of staff, national security adviser and Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Does the president still have confidence in Tillerson?

Indications are that Pompeo's departure from the Central Intelligence Agency would be followed by Sen.

The move will come in the next several weeks, The New York Times reported, citing senior administration officials.

When the reports emerged, Mr Tillerson repeatedly refused to answer when asked whether he had made the comments.

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