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.).
The succession plan was developed by chief of staff John Kelly and is expected to occur around the end of the year or shortly after.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who is close to Trump, would replace Pompeo at the top of the Central Intelligence Agency, the source said.
The Times, the first to report the plan, said it was not immediately clear whether President Donald Trump had given final approval to the shakeup.
In 10 months as America's chief diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has found no world leader a greater challenge than the President of the United States. But the Arkansas Secretary of State's office raised questions about that clause, noting that US Constitution may offer a conflicting view that could override the state statute. But the timing of such a change is unclear.
This combination of pictures created on November 30, 2017 shows US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and CIA Director Mike Pompeo in Washington, DC. On several occasions, the president publicly undercut his diplomatic initiatives.
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. And the plan is not just being considered at the staff level, but by the President himself, the source said.
That's according to two administration officials.
The former ExxonMobil executive has also defended the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump last month disavowed. Asked by a reporter whether he wanted Tillerson to stay on the job, Trump was coy, merely pointing out that Tillerson was in fact in the building.