Rex Tillerson has no plans to resign as Secretary of State and is “just taking a little time off,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday amid reports Tillerson was considering stepping down.
CNN reported over the weekend that a potential “Rexit” at Foggy Bottom was brewing and that Tillerson might resign before the end of the year. The report pointed to the former ExxonMobil CEO’s growing frustration with the administration, which was exacerbated by President Trump’s public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“The secretary has been very clear he intends to stay here at the State Department” Nauert told reporters when asked about the resignation rumors, according to The Hill. “We have a lot of work that is left to be done ahead of us. He recognizes that. He is deeply engaged in that work.”
Nauert said Tillerson is “just taking a little time off” after returning from a “mega trip” at the beginning of the month that included stops in Germany, Ukraine, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
“He’s entitled to take a few days himself,” Nauert said.
CNN said Tillerson told “friends outside of Washington” that he intended to remain at the State Department at least through the end of the year, but cited two anonymous sources who said they thought he might leave sooner than that.
Those sources also told CNN Tillerson “could have been venting after a tough week.”
Tillerson’s senior aide RC Hammond denied the report in a Buzzfeed News story published Monday.
“As long as there are rogue regimes pursuing nuclear weapons or terrorists seeking safe haven the secretary will remain on the job,” Hammond said.
There has been tension between Tillerson and the Trump administration over issues ranging from Iran policy to State Department personnel, according to several media reports. In June, the secretary of State unloaded on White House aide Johnny DeStefano over staffing issues.
“Well, it is a lot different than being C.E.O. of Exxon because I was the ultimate decision maker,” Tillerson told Tillerson told The New York Times about his role as chief diplomat earlier this month. “That always makes life easier.”
Some reporters speculated that Trump’s politicized address at the Boy Scout Jamboree could have further alienated Tillerson, a Distinguished Eagle Scout and former national president of the Boy Scouts of America.