FILE - In this Friday, March 27, 2015 file photo, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on the release of a report by the National Petroleum Council on oil drilling in the Arctic, in Washington. On Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump moved closer to nominating Tillerson as his secretary of state, meeting privately with the business leader for the second time in a week. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Is There a Major Shakeup Coming at the State Department?

Perhaps there is more to the stories of simmering tensions between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump, after all.

To recap: On Wednesday, NBC News ran with a story detailing Tillerson’s anger over the president’s highly politicized and wholly inappropriate speech at this year’s Boy Scout Jamboree.
Reports are that Tillerson, a former Eagle Scout and national president of the Boy Scouts, not only threatened to resign, but called Trump a “moron.”

Later on Wednesday, Tillerson actually gave a press conference, where he disputed the reports of his having threatened to resign, although he blew off questions of whether he’d called the president a moron.

Then came the most ominous report of all –
President Trump was said to have full confidence in Tillerson.

At any time during the administration that that phrase, “full confidence” has been uttered, it is almost immediately followed by a resignation or a firing.

Does this mean we can look forward to a coming Rexit?
(See what I did there?)

Well, if there’s any validity to a new report from Axios, maybe.

According to the report, another Cabinet shuffle is forthcoming, with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo being considered to replace the disgruntled Rex Tillerson, as Secretary of State.

The desire is to have as smooth of a transition, as possible. Pompeo is already around the table in the Situation Room, has Trump’s trust, and even delivers the daily briefings to him, personally. With that in mind, he’s seen as a perfect fit.

Also from the Axios report:

Sources tell us Trump recognizes that a Cabinet shuffle would bring bad press. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly wants stability, and so is discouraging high-level departures before next year.

And yet, insiders say Trump’s relationship with Tillerson is broken beyond repair. We’re told Trump was furious that Tillerson didn’t try to blunt the story about him calling the president a “moron,” by just going out and denying it (whether or not it actually occurred).

Trump was reportedly furious that what he considered a successful trip to Las Vegas, hoping to up his profile as a “compassionate leader” was overshadowed by news that his Secretary of State thought of him as a moron and had considered walking away from the dumpster fire known as the Trump administration.

Another element to the story is that chief of staff John Kelly was set to travel with the president on Air Force One on Wednesday, the same day the “moron” story broke, but was abruptly pulled from the flight. Some are saying it was so he could stay back and work on the chaos the story caused. A later report stated that Kelly called Defense Secretary James Mattis and Tillerson to the White House, in order to work through the tensions.

Mattis and Kelly are said to be firm allies of Tillerson in the administration, so there may be something to this.

Until an official announcement of a change at the head of the State Department, we can only watch the moves as they happen and put the pieces together, one by one.

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Susan Wright

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