Posts tagged with "Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson"

Is Nikki Haley positioning herself to replace Mike Pence on Trump’s 2020 ticket?

November 13, 2019

She is one of the few Trump Administration headliners who has departed while still on good terms with the president. And on her current book tour, Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, has characterized the POTUS as “truthful.”

Now, political pundits are asking, does Haley have an agenda? And more specifically, is she angling to replace Mike Pence on the 2020 GOP ticket as vice president?

Less than three months ago, Yahoo News pointed out on November 12, Haley shut down speculation that she was seeking to replace VP Mike Pence.

“Enough of the false rumors,” she tweeted on August 21. “Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years. He has been a loyal and trustworthy VP to the President. He has my complete support.”

But the speculation has resumed during Haley’s promotional tour for her new book, which some observers—including the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough—believe is doubling as an audition for the role of Trump’s running mate.

Haley’s book, entitled With All Due Respect: Defending America With Grit and Grace, which was released on Tuesday, November 12, is respectful toward Trump and dismissive of some of his other cabinet members, including former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom she says tried to recruit her to “save the country” by undermining Trump, Yahoo reports.

She writes, “Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country. ‘We are doing the best we can do to save the country,’ they said. We need you to work with us and help us do it.”

Both Kelly and Tillerson have denied that they were on a mission to undermine Trump. (Kelly told The Washington Post that if providing the president “with the best and most open, legal and ethical staffing advice … is ‘working against Trump,’ then guilty as charged.”)

Haley says she refused to go along with the idea. “Go tell the president what your differences are, and quit if you don’t like what he’s doing,” Haley described her response to CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell.  “But to undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing.”

In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, the former South Carolina governor said she told Trump about Kelly and Tillerson’s back-door approach.

In the same interview, Yahoo reports, Haley defended Trump’s requests for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals in exchange for military aid — the basis of the House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry.

While she refused to say whether she agreed with Trump that his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect,” Haley echoed a White House talking point that there was no pressure put on Zelensky.

Research contact: @YahooNews

Tillerson testifies that Putin outmaneuvered Trump at Hamburg summit

May 24, 2019

On Thursday, May 23, President Donald Trump lambasted former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—calling him “dumb as a rock” on Twitter—following his seven hours of testimony before members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee the day before.

Tillerson, whom Trump fired by tweet in March 2018, told the committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin was better prepared than Trump for a meeting in Hamburg, Germany, in 2017—putting the U.S. president at a key disadvantage during that first tête-à-tête, The Washington Post reported.

The two-hour conversation between the world leaders, which was not the “get-to-know-you” session expected by Trump, covered a full range of geopolitical issues.

“We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted,” a Foreign Affairs Committee aide told the Post. “There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing.”

Trump fired back on Twitter, characterizing Tillerson as a man who was “totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, [and] made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin.”

Trump added, “I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”

According to the Post, in the past, Trump, has played down the importance of preparation—saying his gut instinct and ability to read a room are paramount for a successful summit.

“I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” Trump said ahead of his historic first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un last year. “It’s about attitude, it’s about willingness to get things done. So this isn’t a question of preparation, it’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen, and we’ll know that very quickly.”

In another rebuttal to Tillerson, the Post reported, Trump noted that Tillerson’s replacement, Mike Pompeo, is “doing a great job” and “agrees with my values.”

“Such a positive difference!” Trump added.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump allowed no transcripts of Putin meetings

January 15, 2019

Talk about wiggle room. It would be hard to judge U.S. President Donald Trump on his initial meeting with  Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2017, because he did not allow any English-speaking note-takers in the room and no formal transcript remains of the discussion, The Wall Street Journal reported on January 13.

What’s more, the Journal said, senior administration officials were never briefed on the tête-a-tête, according to informed sources.

Indeed, when Trump and Putin first met in Germany, it was the Russians who asked to have a note-taker present, according to sources. Telling aides that he wanted to reduce the chance for leaks, the president, in an unconventional move, allowed only then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to be present at the session; and instead had him take notes with the intention of relaying the details to relevant officials afterward, they said.

The president went to “extraordinary lengths” to keep his discussions with Putin from leaking, according to one person familiar with the planning, including preventing any details of the meeting from circulating widely within the government.

“It was very unusual,” the source said.

Unlike most prior administrations, the. Trump White House doesn’t keep records of every meeting between the president and a foreign leader, a former national security official told the Journal—adding that Trump made that call in an effort to build relationships with foreign counterparts. “He does not use traditional diplomatic techniques,” the official said.

“There aren’t records of his meetings like you’d expect,” said one foreign official, adding that the administration also cut back on phone call transcripts since his conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked out early in his presidency.

However, Trump said claims that he took extraordinary measures to keep his discussions with Putin secret were ridiculous.“I had a conversation like every president does,” the president said in an interview Saturday on Fox News. “You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries. I’m not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn’t care less.”

In response, House Democrats said they would explore whether President Trump sought to limit documentation of the meetings, in what could be one of their first actions to probe the president since they took control of the House this month.

“Every time Trump meets with Putin, the country is told nothing,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-New York) said in a statement. “We will be holding hearings on the mysteries swirling around Trump’s bizarre relationship with Putin.”

The flurry of media reports on the lack of note-taking came on the heels of a report by The New York Times that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into. Trump after he fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked. I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written,” Trump said of The New York Times report in the Fox News interview.

Members of the Trump administration and Republicans dismissed the report. “The notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Research contact: @vmsalama

Pompeo clears committee, with a surprise reversal by Senator Paul

April 24, 2018

CIA Director Mike Pompeo was officially short of the votes needed to clear the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, according to a poll of the 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats on the panel by The Hill. And then, in a last-minute reversal of fortune, GOP Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky), who had opposed the nomination, dropped his objections to the nomination in a series of tweets late on April 23.

Pompeo’s confirmation vote follows the removal of Rex Tillerson from the Secretary of State post in mid-March by President Donald Trump.

Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) became the last Democrat on the committee to announce his opposition, saying that “after careful consideration” he would block Pompeo’s nomination to head the U.S. State Department.

“I remain concerned that Director Pompeo will not challenge the president in critical moments,” Coons averred in a statement reported by The Hill.

“On vital decisions facing our country, Director Pompeo seems less concerned with rule of law and partnership with our allies, and more inclined to emphasize unilateral action and the use of force,” he added.

Had Senator Paul not dropped his objections, this would have been the first time in almost a century that a Secretary of State nomination had not been approved in committee.

Research contact: @jordainc

Editor’s note: This story was revised at 9:30 a.m. on April 24.