Tillerson 'Sidelined' at State Department

Sources say he's trying to boost his profile
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2017 4:00 AM CST
Tillerson 'Sidelined' at State Department
Rex Tillerson arrives at Benito Juarez international Airport in Mexico City, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.   (Carlos Barria/Pool photo via AP)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson feels that he has been sidelined—along with the entire State Department—and is looking for ways to boost his profile, insiders say. A State source tells Politico that Tillerson has privately asked aides for advice on boosting his profile and engaging with the media more often. The Washington Post reports that President Trump has relegated the former Exxon CEO to a "mostly offstage role," with Tillerson usually absent from high-profile meetings with foreign leaders. The State Department's traditional daily press briefings ceased when Trump took office and there has been no word on when they might resume.

Insiders say one reason Tillerson hasn't become the face of US foreign policy the way his predecessors were is the fact that his views aren't always in line with Trump's. He is "clearly a very talented and able guy,” former State official Eliot Cohen tells Politico. "The problem is that this is the Trump administration, and one has to surmise that he is not where the president is on some of his zanier days." Trump rejected Elliot Abrams, Tillerson's choice of deputy, for having criticized him. The president has also delegated elements of foreign policy to advisers instead of State, including Israeli-Palestinian talks, where son-in-law Jared Kushner is playing a leading role. (More Rex Tillerson stories.)

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