Tillerson Takes ‘Time Off’ Amid Reports of Frustration With Trump

Tillerson Takes ‘Time Off’ Amid Reports of Frustration With Trump

A State Department spokeswoman said the nation’s chief diplomat was not considering resigning.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives at the Capitol to join Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, in briefing House members on the situation with ISIS, July 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C. The Trump Administration cabinet members briefed members behind closed doors about the ongoing fight against the Islamic State in Syria.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives at the Capitol to join Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, in briefing House members on the situation with ISIS, July 20, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (MARK WILSON/GETTY IMAGES)

The spokeswoman for the State Department on Tuesday said the nation’s chief diplomat, Rex Tillerson, was “taking a little time off” amid reports that he is increasingly at odds with President Donald Trump.

“He does have the ability to go away for a few days on his own,” the department’s Heather Nauert said when asked at a press briefing about Tillerson’s whereabouts. “He’s just taking a little time off.”

CNN and other media outlets have cited people close to Tillerson’s who say the former Exxon Mobil CEO feels increasingly cast aside by the White House, particularly as it debates a new policy for Iran and fills personnel positions within the State Department. In May, the White House proposed a spending plan that would cut the State Department’s overall budget by almost a third, and the White House has blocked Tillerson picks for senior official positions over their reported criticism of Trump during the presidential campaign.

Earlier in the briefing Nauert dismissed a question about whether Tillerson was planning to resign, saying her staff had spoken with the secretary and that he had made it “very clear he intends to stay at the State Department.”

She added that the secretary serves at the pleasure of the president and noted that Tillerson has meetings scheduled through the rest of the week.

 “The secretary is committed to staying,” she said.
Nauert cited Tillerson’s “mega trip overseas” including the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, in early July, adding, “I don’t know what is standard for secretaries of state, how they actually list private days.”

A reporter present offered that the secretary’s vacation time is usually announced and that Tillerson had no public appointments or travel listed on his public schedule.