There’s a huge advantage to having a White House that’s known to be full of leaks. When the President wants to leak something, nobody questions the motives. They simply assume it’s another example of loose lips in an administration that can’t get its act together. The leak of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s impending exit was calculated, strategic, and intentional.
President Obama was the master of utilizing the press to push his agenda. Compared to his predecessors in the modern era, his White House was far better at crafting a media narrative. President Trump is different. He doesn’t push his agenda through the media. He gets the nation talking about issues by prompting the media to “expose” him, then letting public discourse do the rest. A perfect example of this was the NFL. A brief mention at Luther Strange’s campaign rally followed by a Tweet was all it took to get the nation focused on football players kneeling instead of his failed endorsement of Strange and other problems that were happening at the time.
The story leaked to the New York Times by “senior administration officials” is a different tactic the President uses. It’s been well known for months that Tillerson is not supported by the President. Speculation has been up and down about his departure. The President, who doesn’t like firing people (despite his catch phrase on The Apprentice), would love nothing better than for Tillerson to step aside on his own. This leak is the first and possibly last step to make this happen.
What’s most conspicuous is that the details are properly formed. They have a replacement in mind in CIA Director Mike Pompeo. They have his replacement at the CIA in mind with Senator Tom Cotton. The only remaining decision is who Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will move into the Senator’s seat once Cotton is gone.
All of the storylines have been put into motion. All that’s left is for Tillerson to accept there’s no turning this around and to figure out a way to save as much of his shattered reputation as possible.
WASHINGTON – The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, within the next several weeks, senior administration officials said on Thursday.
Mr. Pompeo would be replaced at the C.I.A. by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas who has been a key ally of the president on national security matters, according to the White House plan. Mr. Cotton has signaled that he would accept the job if offered, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations before decisions are announced.