According to a new story from Politico, President Donald Trump may be very close to shaking up his administration in one of the biggest moves in months. Trump’s administration, which has been in flux since he was sworn in, is apparently on the verge of seeing its most explosive shift yet if the report is to be believed. Sources inside the White House told Politico that it was only a matter of time before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was replaced, and the man most likely to take his spot at the head of the State Department? None other than CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
“The CIA director’s favored status in the West Wing has made him the odds-on choice to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, according to more than half a dozen administration officials and outside advisers familiar with the White House’s current plans,” Politico reported. “It’s not clear when Tillerson might leave — he has vigorously denied rumors that he plans to resign anytime soon — but Pompeo has told associates that he expects the president to tap him for the position and that he’d accept the job if it’s offered to him.”
It would not be a shock to see Tillerson leave the administration by the end of the year. While the secretary of state has done a good job of appearing to support Trump on camera (most of the time), we struggle to recall any instance in recent memory where a top federal official called the president a “f**king moron.” Tillerson denied that he ever said that, but c’mon. And even if he didn’t, it’s been clear for months that he does not see eye to eye with the president’s America First-style of diplomacy. Making budgetary cuts to the State Department? Yes, Tillerson is on board with that. But pulling back from our role as World Police? No, he’s given no indication that he’s in favor of that.
Politico reports that Pompeo is much closer to Trump’s style of thinking about the world than is the former Exxon executive:
Whereas Tillerson has consistently worked to counter the president’s hawkish instincts, pushing to open talks with North Korea and opposing the decertification of the Iran nuclear deal, for example, Pompeo’s views are more in tune with the president’s views on foreign policy.
“Pompeo is a skeptic toward the traditional thinking in Washington about Iran and North Korea,” said Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, a former deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush. “Tillerson pushed back on policy things and at times he reflected that there’s always a diplomatic solution. Pompeo will think outside the box. He’s also willing to not attack Trump openly, which most of this administration seems willing to do.”
Trump came to Washington with little idea of what to expect, and he did his best to quickly outfit his administration with the best people he could find. It’s only natural, however, that – having gotten a feel for the power dynamics in Washington and learning what it will really take to implement his agenda – he begin moving the chess pieces around the board. Moving Pompeo to State and moving Sen. Tom Cotton to the CIA could be the kind of move that solidifies Trump’s presidency and lets him move forward with confidence.