- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 30, 2017

The White House pushed back Thursday against reports that plans were set to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying that he would already be gone if President Trump had lost confidence in him.

“When the president loses confidence with someone, they will no longer be here,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

However, Mrs. Sanders refused to explicitly say that the president had confidence in Mr. Tillerson.

Under a barrage of questions about the report that Mr. Tillerson was on his way out the door, Mrs. Sanders insisted that the president had not reached a “tipping point” in his relationship with the country’s top diplomat.

She said both men were working together “doing the best they can to make the world a better place.”

Reports of friction between Mr. Trump and Mr. Tillerson have swirled around Washington for months. But the New York Times report Thursday that Mr. Trump planned to replace Mr. Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo bumped it up to a new level.

The newspaper said that Mr. Tillerson would be gone “within a few weeks.”

Mrs. Sanders‘ assertion that the president and the secretary of state were focused on finishing the year on a strong note did not end the speculation.

“We are all closing out the year,” she said. “I don’t mean anything by it more than that.”

Mrs. Sanders said that she didn’t waste her time trying to figure out the origin of anonymously sourced news stories about intrigue at the White House.

She also said that the reports would not impede Mr. Tillerson from doing his job.

“The secretary of state is a pretty tough guy,” Mrs. Sanders.

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