President Donald Trump's White House doesn't just want to remove Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. They want to embarrass him in the process.
The plan was for the media to cover stories about Trump wanting Tillerson out as Secretary of State so that he would "punch out" on his own, according CNN. Trump, Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis are scheduled to meet at a White House lunch later on Friday, the same day as Tillerson dismissed reports that the White House wants to fire him as "laughable." It is possible that the issue of Tillerson's future will come up during that meeting.
The source added, "The clock is ticking."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to reinforce the notion that Tillerson might be on his way out, telling reporters, "When the president loses confidence in someone, they will no longer serve in the capacity that they're in."
If Tillerson was to be replaced by Pompeo, he would have one of the shortest terms of any Secretary of State in modern history. Pompeo's nomination would immediately arouse controversy due to his long history of Islamophobic statements, and Pompeo's likely replacement as CIA director — Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas — would also become a controversial pick due to his youth and inexperience.
Pompeo, meanwhile, has been reported to be in the process of preparing to take over the State Department, even though Tillerson has not been officially relieved of his duties yet. As one White House official told the Post, "Pompeo is quietly looking at staff and figuring out how the department could be reorganized to be effective again."