U.S. President Donald Trump tells reporters ''Rex is here'' when asked about a reported plan to oust Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Donald Trump is considering a plan to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has had a strained relationship with his boss over North Korea and other issues, senior administration officials said on Thursday. Tillerson would be replaced by CIA director Mike Pompeo, known as a Trump loyalist, within weeks under a White House plan to carry out the most significant staff shakeup so far of the Trump administration. Republican Senator Tom Cotton would be tapped to replace Pompeo at the Central Intelligence Agency, the officials told Reuters. It was not immediately clear whether Trump had given final approval to the latest staff shakeup, but one of the officials said the president asked for the plan to be put together. Tillerson's long-rumored departure would end a troubled tenure for the former Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive who has been increasingly at odds with Trump over policy challenges such as North Korea and under fire for his planned cuts at the State Department. Tillerson was reported in October to have privately called Trump a "moron," something which the secretary of state sought to dismiss. That followed a tweet by Trump a few days earlier that Tillerson should not waste his time by seeking negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear and missile program. Trump asked John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, to develop the transition strategy and it has already been discussed with other officials, one administration source said. Under the plan, which was first reported by the New York Times, the staff reshuffle would happen around the end of the year or shortly afterward. Asked if he wanted Tillerson to remain in his job, Trump sidestepped the question on Thursday, telling reporters at the White House: "He's here. Rex is here."