After unrefuted reports emerged last month that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called President Trump a “moron,” word quickly spread that America’s top diplomat was on the outs.
Despite the efforts by the White House to play down the story at the time, new reporting seems to confirm speculation at the time that CIA director Mike Pompeo is poised to take Tillerson’s position.
US news website Politico writes on Wednesday that Pompeo has taken on an especially influential role in the Trump White House, advising him on a broad range of issues in “free flowing” intelligence briefings. Four mornings a week, Trump reportedly seeks thoughts from the former House member on topics ranging from national security threats to the dynamics of Congress.
“Like President Trump, Director Pompeo is clear-eyed and hard-nosed about the threats we face, and he speaks in the direct, blunt manner of a man who has no time to waste when confronting those threats,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who served alongside Pompeo in the House was quoted as saying.
Trump’s close relationship with Pompeo, as the Politico report notes, is strikingly similar to his with now White House chief of staff John Kelly. Kelly was elevated from secretary of Homeland Security to his current role six months after joining the administration.
Tillerson and Trump have sent mixed signals to the international community, perhaps most notably when the Secretary of State countered Trump’s hawkish rhetoric in saying the US was pursuing talks with North Korea.
“Pompeo is a skeptic toward the traditional thinking in Washington about Iran and North Korea,” former deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush Jim Jeffrey was reported as saying. “Tillerson pushed back on policy things and at times he reflected that there’s always a diplomatic solution.”
Pompeo in contrast, Jeffrey said, “will think outside the box.”