Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to leave the Trump administration in January, sources tell Fox News, amid discussion of potentially tapping CIA Director Mike Pompeo as a replacement.

The discussions come amid reports of growing tension between President Trump and the nation’s top diplomat.

Fox News is told the most likely succession plan would involve moving Pompeo to the State Department and nominating Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton to lead the CIA.

The New York Times also reported that the White House has developed such a plan.

Asked for comment, Cotton’s communications director, Caroline Tabler, told Fox News on Thursday that the senator’s “focus is on serving Arkansans in the Senate.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. left, introduces CIA Director-designate Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., center, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, during Pompeo’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. At right is former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo is being floated to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. (AP)

Another potential, albeit less-likely, scenario would move U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to the State Department, and transition National Security Council official Dina Powell to Haley’s post.

“We have no comment,” a CIA spokesperson told Fox News on Thursday, when asked about the discussions.

Tillerson’s exit has been long rumored. Just last month, NBC News reported that Tillerson considered resigning over the summer amid disagreements with the White House, and even reportedly called the president a “moron” after a meeting with Cabinet officials.

Tom Cotton AP

Arkansas’ Republic Sen. Tom Cotton’s office said he is focused on his work in the Senate, despite reports he could replace Mike Pompeo at the CIA. (AP)

Tillerson pushed back on the report, insisting there had “never been a consideration in my mind” to resign.

Tillerson also raised eyebrows in August, following the president’s response to the attacks in Charlottesville, Va. In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” in August, host Chris Wallace pointedly asked Tillerson about the president’s values.

“The president speaks for himself, Chris,” Tillerson curtly replied.

The State Department did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Thursday.

Trump, on the other hand, has largely been mum on his relationship with the former Exxon CEO and his performance as secretary of state — while seemingly applying social media pressure on the diplomat to be tougher on the international stage.

Trump tweeted last month that Tillerson was “wasting his time” with the diplomatic campaign to push North Korea toward denuclearization.


“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted. “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”

Pompeo is seemingly more in line with Trump on North Korea. In August, the CIA director praised Trump for his tough rhetoric toward the rogue regime and for “uniting the world” in trying to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

“The president made clear to the North Korea regime how America will respond if actions are taken,” Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday” in August.

Politico reported over the summer that Pompeo spent a considerable amount of time at the White House, even setting up a temporary office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the street. The report suggested Pompeo made “almost-daily” White House appearances.

The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Thursday.

During his Oval Office meeting Thursday with Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Trump was asked by reporters whether Tillerson would leave his post.

“He’s here,” Trump said. “Rex is here.”