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"Rex Is Here," Trump Says Vaguely After Reporting of Plan for Tillerson's Exit

Trump White House reportedly has a plan to get rid of his Secretary of State, with Mike Pompeo as replacement and hawkish Republican Senator Tom Cotton nominated to direct CIA

President Donald Trump smiles at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after he was sworn in in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Feb. 1, 2017. (Photo: AP)

Citing unnamed "senior administration officials" on Thursday, the New York Times reports that the Trump administration has a detailed plan to push Secretary of State Rex Tillerson out his position and replace him with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who would in turn be replaced by the hawkish U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

While many on social media cheered the development as the latest evidence that the Trump administration is simply a hotbed of dysfunction, others found the possible implications—given the personnel re-shuffling laid out by the Times—quite worrying.

Kelle Louaillier, president of Corporate Accountability International, said that while ousting Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil, might otherwise be a positive step, having Pompeo in charge of the U.S. State Department would be nothing to celebrate.

"Tillerson was one of the most blatant revolving door cases in the Trump administration and a clear sign that Trump's government was of, by, and for the fossil fuel industry. But make no mistake: Mike Pompeo could be far worse." —Kelle Louaillier, Corporate Accountability International

"Tillerson was one of the most blatant revolving door cases in the Trump administration and a clear sign that Trump's government was of, by, and for the fossil fuel industry," said Louaillier in a statement. "But make no mistake: Mike Pompeo could be far worse."

As a member of Congress, she noted, Pompeo represented Wichita, Kansas, where Koch Industries is based, has been called the "Koch Brothers' favorite congressman." The current CIA Director has also been criticized for a series of bigoted and Islamophobic statements and views.

"Once again, this administration has proven that just when you think things can't get any worse, Donald Trump and his cronies will find a way. Now, instead of having a former fossil fuel CEO at the helm of foreign policy, the United States will have an Islamophobic Koch Brothers shill—who built his own business using Koch money and owes his political career first and foremost to their deep pockets. In Congress, Pompeo received more money from the Koch Brothers than any other member," Louaillier added. "Not only will the Koch Brothers now have a direct line to the State Department, Pompeo will lead U.S. foreign policy down the same dark, bigoted and Islamophobic path of Donald Trump’s Twitterfeed."

While acknowledging leaking the plan to journalist might be designed as an overt "signal to [Tillerson] that it is time to go," the Times reports that the "shake-up of the national security team," apparently being orchestrated by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, "would happen around the end of the year or shortly afterward." 

Shortly after the news broke, Trump was peppered by reporters about the veracity of the story at the White House. The president, however, only responded with a vague, "He's here. Rex is here."

According to the Times:

The ouster of Mr. Tillerson would end a turbulent reign at the State Department for the former Exxon Mobil chief executive, who has been largely marginalized over the last year. Mr. Trump and Mr. Tillerson have been at odds over a host of major issues, including the Iran nuclear deal, the confrontation with North Korea and a clash between Arab allies. The secretary was reported to have privately called Mr. Trump a “moron” and the president publicly criticized Mr. Tillerson for “wasting his time” with a diplomatic outreach to North Korea.

Mr. Tillerson’s departure has been widely anticipated for months, but associates have said he was intent on finishing out the year to retain whatever dignity he could. Even so, an end-of-year exit would make his time in office the shortest of any secretary of state whose tenure was not ended by a change in presidents in nearly 120 years.

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