White House plans to replace Secretary of State Tillerson: NYT

Washington: The White House has developed a plan to replace Rex Tillerson as the US Secretary of State with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a media report said today.

The report carried in ‘The New York Times’ said the plan to replace the 65-year-old Tillerson was prepared by Chief of Staff John Kelly.

However, US President Donald Trump immediately refuted the claim made in the report.

“He’s here. Rex is here,” Trump told reporters shortly after the report in the reputable US daily.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders too issued a statement, saying “Rex is here”.

“There are no personnel announcements at this time. Secretary Tillerson continues to lead the State Department and the entire cabinet is focused on completing this incredibly successful first year of President Trump’s administration,” Sanders said.

According to the report, the shake-up of the national security team is going to happen around the end of the year.

“Under his plan, the shake-up of the national security team would happen around the end of the year or shortly afterward,” the report said.

“But for all of his public combativeness, Mr Trump is notoriously reluctant to fire people, and it was not known if Mr Tillerson had agreed to step down by then. Public disclosure of Mr Kelly’s transition plan may be meant as a signal to the secretary that it is time to go,” it added.

The ouster of Tillerson would end a turbulent reign at the State Department, the report said, adding that Tillerson has been marginalised over the last year.

The report noted that Trump so far has not indicated if he has given his approval to the plan.

Former Exxon Mobil CEO, Tillerson is an American civil engineer and former energy executive. He is the 69th US Secretary of State, serving since February 1, 2017.