Mattis on Tillerson ouster reports: ‘There’s nothing to it’

Mattis on Tillerson ouster reports: ‘There’s nothing to it’

By Loree Lewis   
Published
President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis depart the Pentagon following a meeting of the National Security Council in Washington, D.C., on July 20. (DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday that there’s “nothing to” reports alleging that the White House has a plan to force Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to resign.

“I make nothing of it. There’s nothing to it,” Mattis said from the Pentagon ahead of a meeting with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Multiple media outlets reported Thursday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly developed a plan to push Tillerson out of the State Department, but that it was unclear President Donald Trump gave the plan his approval. CIA Director Mike Pompeo would reportedly take over the role, and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) would take over at the CIA.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday during a news briefing that Kelly had called the State Department to deny the that there was a transition plan.

“He remains, as I have been told, committed to doing this job,” Nauert said of Tillerson. “He does serve at the pleasure of the president. This is a job that he enjoys.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday, asked if there was a plan in place to push Tillerson out, said: “When the president loses confidence in someone they will no longer serve in the capacity that they’re in.”

“The president was here today with the secretary of state. They engaged in a foreign leader visit and are continuing to work together to close out what we consider an incredible year,” she said during a regular news conference.

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