President Trump says Tillerson ouster is 'fake news'

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WASHINGTON (AP) -

President Donald Trump says media speculation that Secretary of State Tillerson will leave his job soon is "fake news."

Trump is responding on Twitter to widespread reports attributed to White House officials describing a plan to oust Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Trump says it's incorrect that he "fired Rex Tillerson" or that the secretary will be leaving soon. He says Tillerson is "not leaving."

The president says he and Tillerson disagree on some subjects but adds that "I call the shots." Trump says he and Tillerson "work well together" and that the U.S. is once again "highly respected."

Trump's tweet linked to a photograph of Tillerson being sworn into office earlier this year in the Oval Office while Trump and Vice President Mike Pence looked on.


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The White House is discussing a plan to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo in a major shake-up of President Donald Trump's national security team, two administration officials said Thursday.

The move would put Pompeo, a former congressman who has grown close to Trump during his tenure atop the CIA, in charge of U.S. diplomacy. Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO, has had a rough first year characterized by tensions with Trump in several foreign policy areas and negative publicity over Tillerson's envisioned overhaul of the State Department.

U.S. officials and other individuals familiar with White House thinking said the plan that's been floated envisions Sen. Tom Cotton as the most likely candidate to take over Pompeo's job at CIA. Cotton's office wouldn't comment on that possibility, other than to say: "Senator Cotton's focus is on serving Arkansans in the Senate."

It wasn't clear how quickly such a plan might be put in place, nor whether Pompeo had been formally approached about it. A White House official said that the timing remains unclear. The New York Times, which first reported the potential shake-up, said it would likely happen within several weeks.

Several administration officials said that Pompeo has said in the past that he's open to taking the job.

Tillerson aides and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The White House started telling people in September that Tillerson would be replaced, said a senior administration official. By that point, some issues that needed sign-off from the secretary of state were being put off until after Tillerson was gone, said the official, who like others wasn't authorized to comment publicly and demanded anonymity.

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