For more than a month, rumors have flown in Washington that President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have strained relations. On Thursday, multiple media outlets reported on a rumor that Tillerson will soon step down as America's top diplomat and be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
On Friday, however, Tillerson dismissed the rumor as “laughable.” Tillerson used the term twice when reporters asked him for a response to the persistent rumors of a rift with Trump and his possible replacement by Pompeo, a former congressman. Reporters posed the question during a photo op with the prime minister of Libya.
After rumors circulated earlier this fall that tensions had grown between him and Trump, Tillerson held a press conference during which he said Trump is "smart.” The remarks came after unattributed reports circulated that he had threatened to resign over the summer months and had referred to the president as a “moron.”
The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon - FAKE NEWS! He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!https://t.co/FrqiPLFJ1E— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
"The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon - FAKE NEWS," President Trump tweeted on Friday. "He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!"
The president response came after rumors flew that Pompeo would succeed Tillerson, and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) would take over at the CIA. Another rumor held that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley would take over as Secretary of State. State Department Press Secretary Heather Nauert addressed questions about Tillerson’s future to the White House. "He remains the secretary of state and as long as he serves at the pleasure of the president, he will continue to do that job," Nauert said. "He’s heard these kinds of stories before, and he’s just going about his business." Nauert said that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Tillerson on Thursday when reports first broke, to assure him the “rumors are not true.”