Embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on his way out of the State Department, according to the New York Times.
Tillerson, who hasn’t been getting along with President Trump, is reportedly going to be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo as part of a plan put together by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, multiple senior administration officials told the Times.
Tom Cotton, a Republican senator from Arkansas known for his extreme foreign policy hawkishness, is set to replace Pompeo at the CIA.
President Trump, however, hasn’t given the plan an official green light yet, the Times reported, and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But Tillerson and Trump’s relationship reportedly soured in recent months.
After Trump’s bizarre, politicized speech to the Boy Scouts of America in July, Tillerson called the president a “fucking moron” in front of several members of his national security team and Cabinet, senior administration officials told ABC. At the time Tillerson was on the verge of quitting, and Vice President Mike Pence reportedly had to intervene.
While Tillerson wouldn’t directly respond to what he referred to in a press conference as “petty nonsense,” he did state that he had “never considered leaving” his role as Secretary of State. A state department spokesperson later specifically denied the charge.
Soon after, in one of his many acerbic interviews, Trump essentially challenged Tillerson to an IQ test.
““I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win,” Trump told Forbes.
And just days ago, on Nov. 28, Tillerson also made some cryptic remarks about his future within the State Department and his objectives going forward in a speech to the Wilson Center on strengthening Western alliances.
“My only objective in the organization redesign is to help these people who are – who have chosen this as a career,” Tillerson said. “Because I’ll come and go, and there will be other politicals that will come and go — what can I do to help them?”
Under Trump, the State Department has been described as a ghost town, with key positions unfilled and ambassadors still unnamed after a hiring freeze that only recently ended. Tillerson is also in the throes of a major reorganization plan to cut $10 billion from the department’s budget over the next five years.