Amid reports that President Donald Trump could replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said he did not believe Tillerson to be on his way out.
The New York Times and other outlets reported Thursday, citing unnamed administration officials, that the White House was considering a plan to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and to then replace Pompeo with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK).
Corker told reporters he had spoken to Tillerson Thursday, CNN reported.
“Maybe it’s happening, but I don’t think the secretary of state job is going to be open in two weeks. That’s all I’m saying,” he told reporters Thursday, according to CNN. “We as a nation and the rest of the world need someone like Rex Tillerson in that position.”
“It’s been evident to me that for some time, somebody is seeking to undermine his presence here. I don’t know who that is. I know he’s taken on some issues like the reform of the State Department. I know it hasn’t gone in a spectacular way,” the senator said.
“Again, there’s something underway,” he added, per CNN. “Again, I don’t know who’s doing it, but to discredit what he’s doing at the State Department.”
The secretary of state, Corker said in October, was one of “those people that help separate our country from chaos,” alongside Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
The senator announced in September that he would not seek re-election after his current term, which expires at the end of 2018.
Responding to questions about Tillerson earlier Thursday, the President said simply: “Rex is here.”