Report: White House plans to force Rex Tillerson out as secretary of state

Last Updated Nov 30, 2017 12:05 PM EST

The White House has a plan to fire Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the director of the CIA, within the next several weeks, according to The New York Times.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly developed the plan to replace Tillerson, the report said, which involves nominating Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, to replace Pompeo at the CIA. The report noted that it's unclear whether President Trump has signed off on the plan yet.

This comes after a bitter few months between Tillerson and Mr. Trump in which the president has repeatedly undermined America's chief diplomat. In October, Tillerson shot down a report that said he had been on the verge of resigning from his Cabinet position over the summer.

"I have never considered leaving this post," Tillerson said about what he called an "erroneously" reported story from NBC News.

NBC also reported that Tillerson had called President Trump a "moron."  Asked to respond to that part of the story, the secretary of state replied, "I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that," though he did not deny that he said it.

A few days after the story came out, Mr. Trump attacked Tillerson in an interview with Forbes magazine, suggesting that he's smarter than the secretary. The president was reacting to the report that said Tillerson called him a moron.

"I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win," Mr. Trump told Forbes.

The Senate confirmed Tillerson, 65, as secretary of state in early February. He had previously been the CEO of ExxonMobil.

Pompeo, 53, was confirmed by the Senate to serve as CIA director in January. He served in the House from 2011 until 2017, representing Kansas. Cotton, 40, has served in the Senate since 2015 and previously served in the House from 2031 until 2015.

If the plan is carried out, both Pompeo and Cotton would have to be confirmed by the Senate. 

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.