There’s been a lot of talk about personnel changes at the White House lately. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon have all been subject to President Trump’s scrutiny in the last few months. Now, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be the next casualty. After going rogue and assuming several policy stances on the Middle East that appeared antithetical to the White House consensus, Tillerson is currently “taking a little time off,” according to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
Nauert was relatively tight-lipped about this unusual move, refusing to elaborate on the matter in any real detail.
“When asked about the discrepancies between Tillerson’s public schedule and his reported movements, and why the department hadn’t updated the press on his whereabouts, Nauert said Tillerson ‘does have the ability to go away for a few days on his own,'” reports Business Insider.
Nauert seemed defensive when reporters pressed her further about the odd decision to let America’s chief diplomat take a “little time off” at such a volatile time.
“He’s got a lot of work. He just came back from that mega-trip overseas, as you all well know — many of you were over there with the G-20,” said the State Department spokeswoman.
Many have begun asking whether or not Tillerson is on his way out in the wake of sharp policy disagreements with the president. For example, when a coalition of Sunni-Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over concerns about terrorism financing and support for Iran, Tillerson seemed to side with the Qataris while Trump himself seemed to side with the Saudis. The contradiction led many to question the administration’s competence as it faces major diplomatic hurdles on the world stage.
For now, Tillerson is out of the public eye while he takes a “little time off” in Texas, according to Politico reporter Nahal Toosi. We know that Trump values loyalty above all else. So, has Tillerson failed Trump’s loyalty test? We’ll have to wait and see.