Trump says Tillerson ouster is 'fake news'

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens as President Donald Trump announces that the United States will designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says media speculation that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will leave his job soon is "fake news."

Trump responded on Twitter to widespread reports attributed to White House officials describing a plan to oust Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Trump said it's incorrect that he "fired Rex Tillerson" or that the secretary will be leaving soon. He said Tillerson is "not leaving."

The president said he and Tillerson disagree on some subjects but adds that "I call the shots." Trump continued that he and Tillerson "work well together" and that the U.S. is once again "highly respected."

Trump's tweet links to a photograph of Tillerson being sworn into office earlier this year in the Oval Office while Trump and Vice President Mike Pence look on.

Secretary of State Tillerson on Friday brushed off reports that the White House wants him out, calling the idea "laughable" as he carried on with his a diplomatic schedule amid a swirl of speculation about his future.

"It's laughable. It's laughable," Tillerson told reporters when asked about comments by senior U.S. officials a day earlier, who said President Donald Trump is considering pushing out his top diplomat.

Senior U.S. officials say President Donald Trump is considering replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to lead off a realignment of his national security team.

The officials say such a plan calls for Tillerson to be replaced by the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, who would then be replaced by Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. The officials spoke about the possible changes on condition of anonymity.

Publicly, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn't confirm or deny that Trump was considering replacing Tillerson. Trump himself wouldn't directly answer when asked if he wanted Tillerson to stay on the job.

Tillerson left Exxon Mobil as CEO to join the administration. Replacing the understated former oil man could significantly shift the tone and direction of Trump's foreign policy.

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