President Donald Trump may look to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo after an NBC report alleged Tillerson had called Trump a moron, according to Axios’s Mike Allen.
Trump has focused several tweets and interviews on NBC’s report since the story broke on Wednesday.
He has gone as far as suggesting the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating his possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election, should investigate “Fake News Networks.”
Tillerson gave a special televised addressseemingly to refute the report and reaffirm his support for Trump and his desire to remain in the administration, but when asked directly about the report he dismissed it as “nonsense” instead of directly denying it.
Now, according to Axios, Trump and Tillerson’s relationship is badly damaged. Ian Bremmer, a political scientist who runs the Eurasia Group tweeted that Tillerson has taken to deriding Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Trump’s family and close advisers as “the royal family.”
Meanwhile, Trump has publicly questioned Tillerson’s efficacy on Twitter, saying he’s “wasting his time” trying to talk to North Korea.
But Pompeo, who has defended Trump in the past and speaks with him daily, could possibly transition smoothly into the role of Secretary of State. Pompeo has credibility as a member of Trump’s inner circle and a wide variety of government experience, unlike Tillerson.
But sources told Axios that Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly does not want any more staff shakeups, as they generate bad press. For this reason, we may see the reportedly fraught relationship between the president and his secretary of state drag on.