A day after CNN ran a story claiming that the White House was considering firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump said the news was not true.
“The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon – FAKE NEWS!”,Trump wrote on Twitter.
“He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!”, he added.
The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon – FAKE NEWS! He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!https://t.co/FrqiPLFJ1E
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
Trump met with Tillerson and Defense Secretary Gen. Jim Mattis on Friday for a lunch appointment. Tillerson and Mattis are playing key roles in America’s response to the North Korean nuclear threat, as well as Trump’s pressure campaign to get the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
CNN had suggested based on unnamed sources that the White House was “contemplating a scenario to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo within the next few months.”
The article published on Nov. 30 also made the unproven claim that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) would be chosen as the new CIA director.
The unproven news was quickly picked up and reported by numerous other media outlets.
The insinuations continued even after Trump himself as well as White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders denied the reports on Thursday.
“As the President just said, ‘Rex is here.’ There are no personnel announcements at this time,” Sanders told reporters.
“Secretary Tillerson continues to lead the State Department, and the entire cabinet is focused on completing this incredibly successful first year of President Trump’s administration,” she added.
On Friday, CNN doubled down on its claims, citing an unnamed official, saying that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly did not favor Tillerson.
Hours after the story was published, CNN changed the angle from being focussed on Kelly to Trump’s tweet.
Media organizations have speculated for months that Trump would fire Tillerson.
Tillerson himself shot back at an unverified report published by NBC news in October that had suggested he was considering leaving his post.
“I have answered that question repeatedly, for some reason it continues to be misreported,” Tillerson told reporters at an unscheduled press briefing in response to the report on Oct. 4.
“While I’m new to Washington, I’ve learned that there’re some that try to sow dissension to advance their own agenda by tearing others apart in an effort to undermine Trump’s own agenda,” he said.
“I do not and I will not operate that way, and the same applies to everyone on my team here at the State Department.”
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