Will Nikki Haley Replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State?
Rex Tillerson’s controversial comments—including his statement that “the president speaks for himself” on the violence in Charlottesville, Va.—are leading to speculation that the secretary of state may soon go the way of Anthony Scaramucci and Steve Bannon (that is to say: out).
As for who might replace him, the frontrunner seems to be UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who, Politico reported in April, had been offered the post of secretary of state back in November. Haley reportedly turned the job down because she felt she lacked the requisite foreign policy experience. Over the past few months, however, she has been much more vocal on diplomatic issues than the actual secretary of state.
Haley also recently hinted that she has the ear of the president, saying in that she had a “private” conversation with President Trump after the white supremacy rally in Charlottesville and that her words were “taken very well.”
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Tillerson stunned pundits and viewers Sunday in an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace when he declined to say that President Trump represents American values.
Speaking about Charlottesville, Tillerson said that he doesn’t “believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.”
Wallace followed up with, “And the president’s values?”
“The president speaks for himself, Chris.”
Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports that this is just the latest in a series of perceived gaffes by the secretary of state. He cites a source inside the White House quoting President Trump as saying, “Rex just doesn’t get it, he’s totally establishment in his thinking.”
Among the president’s reported frustrations: the fact that Tillerson still hasn’t staffed top roles at the State Department (the secretary’s spokesman tells Axios it’s because recommendations “sit on the dock” even after they are sent), that he has “destroyed morale” within that department, and that he has contradicted Trump on a number of diplomatic issues, including Venezuelan sanctions and the Iranian nuclear deal.
Axios’s Mike Allen suggests that if Haley were to take the Secretary job, a possible replacement for her at the UN could be Deputy Secretary National Security Adviser Dina Powell.
The White House has not yet responded to Fortune‘s request for comment.