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White House Has Plan to Replace Tillerson With CIA Chief Pompeo: NYT

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The White House has developed a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, within weeks, a senior Trump administration official said Thursday.

Under the plan, Republican Senator Tom Cotton would be tapped to replace Pompeo at the CIA, the New York Times reported, citing senior officials.

The Times, the first to report the plan, said it was not immediately clear whether President Donald Trump had given final approval to the shakeup.

When asked about the ouster Thursday, Trump declined to weigh in.

"He's here, Rex is here," Trump told reporters, who shouted questions about the top diplomat's fate during a meeting between Trump and the crown prince of Bahrain.

Tillerson's departure would end a troubled tenure for the former Exxon Mobile chief executive who has found himself increasingly at odds with Trump over policy challenges such as North Korea and under fire for his planned cuts at the State Department.

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, developed the transition plan and has discussed it with other officials, the Times reported. Under his plan, the staff reshuffle would happen around the end of the year or shortly afterward.

Tillerson's departure has been widely rumored for months, with attention focused on Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as his likely replacement.

But Pompeo, a former three-term member of Congress, has increasingly moved to the forefront as he has gained Trump's trust on national security matters.


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