By Harriet Sinclair
President Donald Trump is set to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Monday after a week of resignation rumors and reports of chaos in the State Department.
The pair are set to meet at 1:30 p.m., according to White House schedules, their meeting coming a week after Tillerson opted to take a few days off while attempting to downplay reports about his frustration with the administration and the president’s open criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The State Department did not state what the politicians would discuss during the meeting at the White House, though they are likely to talk about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order for hundreds of U.S. diplomatic staff to be cut, a move the State Department called a "regrettable and uncalled-for act."
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Several reports suggested last week that Tillerson was unhappy in his role and growing increasingly frustrated with the "unprofessional" attitude of the president, particularly toward Sessions, whom Trump has called "very weak" and "beleaguered" in several disparaging tweets.
Trump also has undertaken a major shakeup of his core team in the past week, with Anthony Scaramucci's entry as director of communications precipitating the resignation of former press secretary Sean Spicer, plus the exit of Reince Priebus and replacement with John Kelly as Trump's chief of staff.
Despite reports about a prospective resignation from the State Department, Tillerson last week denied he was considering quitting, telling CNN his relationship with the president was “good” and claiming “I’m not going anywhere,” adding he was planning to remain in his role “as long as the president lets me.”
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But several people close to Tillerson have told Politico that Trump’s top diplomat has become irritated by issues such as the president’s intervention in staffing his department, and waning eagerness to make the huge budget cuts Trump requires by reorganizing the entire department.
The department itself is not free from criticism, with one former employee, Max Bergmann, stating in an op-ed for Politico last month that ex-colleagues described the situation in the department as "chaos" and a "disaster." He also said that despite the initial feeling Tillerson would carry out some much-needed reorganization in the department, this had not been the case.
“Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing,” Bergmann wrote, prompting questions not as to whether Tillerson will choose to stay, but whether the president will want him to.