LISTEN TO TLR’S LATEST PODCAST:
By Will Racke
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is growing increasingly frustrated with his relationship to the White House and may not serve even a full year as the nation’s top diplomat, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Tillerson has confided in friends that he will be lucky to last a year on the job, given the mistrust between his office and President Donald Trump’s inner circle of foreign policy advisers, a friend told Reuters.
The secretary of state reportedly feels the White House is second-guessing and micromanaging his decisions over policy and personnel. Another source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Tillerson is “very upset at not having autonomy, independence and control over his own department and the ability to do the job the way the job … is traditionally done.”
CNN’s John King reported Monday that Tillerson is also dismayed by what he sees as Trump’s unprofessional treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom the president has publicly criticized on multiple occasions over the past week.
Tillerson and his White House overseers have often failed to land on the same page concerning staffing decisions and responses to international crises. When a group of four Persian Gulf countries imposed a diplomatic and economic blockade on Qatar last month, Tillerson called for both sides to settle their differences and seemed to stake out a neutral position on the dispute. Hours later, Trump called Qatar a “high-level” funder of terrorism and suggested that his discussions with representatives from the Saudi Arabia-led coalition prompted them to initiate the blockade.
Tillerson has also butted heads with the other Trump administration officials over the slow pace of filling senior State Department posts. In late June, he reportedly dressed down White House personnel director Johnny DeStefano for squashing his nominations and for second-guessing his judgment on staffing decisions.
R.C. Hammond, Tillerson’s top spokesman, denied rumors that Tillerson wants to resign, saying he had “plenty of reasons to stay on the job, and all of them are important to America.”
“There’s a desperate need for American leadership in the world and that’s where the secretary’s focusing his attention,” he told Reuters.
Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary James Mattis, did score a victory last week when the Trump administration certified Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. However, the decision was marked by internal discord as Trump and senior advisers Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka wanted to take a harder line against Tehran.
“The secretary does not feel that White House staff members should be in a position to conduct hostile cross-(examinations) of Cabinet officials,” an administration official told Reuters, on the condition of anonymity.