All the more reason that Amb.John Bolton be brought in…
How Rex Tillerson alienated every ally he needs
The most challenging task in Washington, these days, is finding somebody who’ll enthusiastically endorse Rex Tillerson. In just nine months, the Secretary of State has managed to alienate nearly every constituency that matters:
The President — not only has there been tension on a personal level, but the president has undercut and clashed with Tillerson over key policy issues like Qatar, North Korea and Iran.
Recall a few weeks ago when we reported Trump was growing increasingly frustrated with Tillerson, telling colleagues: “Rex just doesn’t get it, he’s totally establishment in his thinking.”
The White House didn’t challenge our report and ultimately issued the blandest statement — from a spokesperson, not Trump — in support of Tillerson.
The State Department rank-and-file — a typical story about their rock bottom morale, here, and about the department’s dysfunction, here.
The White House — this goes well beyond the National Security Council. Tillerson’s Chief of Staff Margaret Peterlin has accumulated an astonishing number of enemies across the administration.
The exchange of “Margaret stories” — including the time she reportedly vetted Condoleezza Rice’s request for a phone conversation with Tillerson — has become a frequent topic of conversation among administration officials who’ve dealt with her.
Capitol Hill — Republicans repudiated Tillerson’s proposed funding cuts and straitjacketed his organizational proposals. Democrats, well, just read this blistering letter from Sen. Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “If the State Department were a private company, it is hard to imagine that it would be allowed to operate for the better part of a year, and maybe longer, without critical senior management.”Last week, the Washington Free Beacon reported there were tensions between the State Department and both the White House and key Republican senators, including Tom Cotton, over whether Israel should return $75 million in U.S. aid to comply with an Obama era agreement.
Tillerson’s spokesman R.C. Hammond categorically denied the report: “The conversations are figments of somebody’s imagination.” I asked the White House and Capitol Hill sources close to the issue whether they’d corroborate Hammond’s statement. Radio silence.