Tags: rex tillerson | pompeo | secretary of state

Tillerson Ouster Would Create Shake-Up in DC

Image: Tillerson Ouster Would Create Shake-Up in DC
Is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his way out? (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

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Friday, 01 Dec 2017 08:46 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The worst-kept secret in official Washington is that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will resign in a few weeks. The second worst-kept secret is that President Trump will tap CIA Director Mike Pompeo to succeed Tillerson.

On Thursday, both "secrets" were major stories, as sources confirmed to reporters that Tillerson was almost certainly on the way out soon and Pompeo was “secretary-in-waiting” — already sounding out potential associates to work with him when he takes over at Foggy Bottom.

But the next two steps following such a shake-up are potentially perilous for both the Trump administration and the Republican Party. Should the president, as the New York Times speculated on Thursday, tap Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to be CIA director, the onetime U.S. Army Bronze Star-winner and Harvard Law graduate would almost surely face spirited opposition from the intelligence community.

In the past year, Cotton has come under fire for dismissing the possibility of Russian influence in the 2016 elections as “ridiculous.” Moreover, during his one term in the House and three years in the Senate, the Razorback State lawmaker has defended waterboarding and other forms of “intensive interrogation” of prisoners in the war on terror.

Cotton’s lack of a background in intelligence aside, the most controversial part of his possible appointment as CIA director would be his leading 45 of his Republican colleagues to sign a letter last year to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The “Cotton letter” claimed that President Obama had no authority to sign such a nuclear agreement with Iran and that the next Congress would override it (which it has yet to do).

Should Cotton — at, 40, the youngest U.S. senator — be nominated and confirmed as CIA director, Arkansas’ Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson would name an interim successor who would serve until a special election in 2018.

Hutchinson’s problem would be choosing someone in a state where Republicans hold all four U.S. House seats, every statewide office, and majorities in both houses of the state legislature. There are, as one political wag in Little Rock put it, “too many prima donnas on the stage to appoint someone without getting everyone else mad.”

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, a former U.S. Representative and U.S. attorney, is reportedly interested. State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a protégé of former Gov. Mike Huckabee and chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, also has ambitions in a state that has an impressive history electing women to political office.

Arkansas first elected a woman to the state legislature in 1922 and a woman to U.S. Senate in 1932.

As talk of Cotton moving on increases, there is also talk of Hutchinson naming an interim senator who would serve until the special election in 2018. Among those mentioned are former three-term Rep. Ed Bethune, who, at 82, would be the oldest person to enter the Senate since 1941.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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The worst-kept secret in official Washington is that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will resign in a few weeks. The second worst-kept secret is that President Trump will tap CIA Director Mike Pompeo to succeed Tillerson.
rex tillerson, pompeo, secretary of state
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Friday, 01 Dec 2017 08:46 AM
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