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Tillerson May End Job at State Sooner

Rex Tillerson has a growing list of differences with the White House, including a new debate over Iran policy and personnel. His frustration is hardly a secret and it has spilled out publicly at times
Rex Tillerson’s differences with the White House first emerged in March when the administration proposed to drastically slash State Department funding.Rex Tillerson’s differences with the White House first emerged in March when the administration proposed to drastically slash State Department funding.

Sources have told CNN that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is thinking about early exit amid widening differences with President Donald Trump on a number of issues.

Talk of a potential “Rexit” at Foggy Bottom was the latest decided chill across the executive branch as last week came to a close after a tumultuous series of events that rattled worker bees and caught the attention of cabinet secretaries.

A large part of that dynamic was the result of the White House staff shakeup —which saw President Trump overruling top advisers to hire Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, and the resignation of press secretary Sean Spicer.

Bigger, though, were the continuing conversations about The New York Times interview in which Trump sharply criticized his attorney general and longtime supporter —Jeff Sessions— saying it was “unfair to the President” that Sessions recused himself from any decisions related to the Russia election meddling investigation.

Among those who viewed the president’s public rebuke of Sessions as unprofessional, according to several sources, is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon-Mobil CEO.

Tillerson has a growing list of differences with the White House, including a new debate over Iran policy and personnel. His frustration is hardly a secret and it has spilled out publicly at times. But friends sense a change of late.

For weeks, conversations with Tillerson friends outside of Washington have left the impression that he, despite his frustrations, was determined to stay on the job at least through the end of the year. That would allow time to continue efforts to reorganize the State Department and would mean he could claim to have put in a year as America’s top diplomat.

But two sources who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity over the weekend said they would not be surprised if there was a “Rexit” from Foggy Bottom sooner than that.

Both of these sources are familiar with Tillerson conversations with friends outside Washington. Both said there was a noticeable increase in the secretary’s frustration and his doubts that the tug-of-war with the White House would subside anytime soon. They also acknowledged it could have been venting after a tough week, a suggestion several DC-based sources made when asked if they saw evidence Tillerson was looking for an exit strategy.

Tillerson’s differences with the White House first emerged in early March when the administration proposed to drastically slash State Department funding.

The secretary of state, in a leaked internal State Department memo, stressed that he was “deeply concerned about the timing and the size of the reductions”.

Trump and Tillerson also in mid-June sent mixed signals on the administration’s stance over the rift between Qatar and its regional neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia.

While, Trump accused Qatar of funding terrorism and called on the Persian Gulf country to stop supporting terrorist activities, Tillerson urged Riyadh and its regional allies to ease the blockade of Doha.

 

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